The future of London's most famous boxing gym, where Britain's leading champions have trained for 50 years, is under threat.

The Thomas a Becket gym in the Old Kent Road, Bermondsey, closed a few weeks ago when its manager left. The gym first opened in 1943, and at one time the Kray Twins sparred there. The boxing hall where around 200 champions trained - including Henry Cooper - now stands empty.

Dean Powell, who was managing the gym, now works for Peacock's Gym in Canning Town. 'I lost interest in running the Thomas a Becket gym because of lack of support from the brewery.'

Former Commonwealth light middleweight champion Lloyd Honeyghan trained there this year and is said to be among those upset by its closure.

Now Martin Wheeler-Boyd, who runs the Thomas a Becket pub beneath the gym, is trying to recruit a new manager so it can reopen. Mr Wheeler-Boyd and his new partner Ray Linard aim to turn the pub into a major rock venue.

He added: 'We have spent money on improvements and, as things get better, I think the gym will become successful again as well.'