MPs today took to the the ring at Fitzroy Boxing Club at a ‘boxing taster session’ organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Boxing.
The taster session was designed to introduce MPs to the work of amateur boxing clubs, highlight the social benefits of boxing, and enable MPs to get out of the bubble of Westminster into the real world. The taster session is the beginning of a ‘twinning’ of Parliament with Fitzroy Lodge Boxing Club, which is situated within minutes of the House of Commons. MPs who attended are Kate Hoey, MP for Vauxhall, where Fitzroy Lodge is situated; Jonathan Djanogly MP, John Cryer MP, Phillip Lee MP, David Davies MP.
“This is a great way to get us MPs out of the bubble of Westminster, and firmly embedded in the real world – and get a fantastic work out at the same time. Fitzroy Lodge may only be a few hundred meters from Parliament, but in many ways it is a different world. By bringing MPs to the gym, and forging an ongoing relationship between Parliament and Fitzroy Lodge, I hope we can in some way bridge the gap between politics, and the real world.
“We also hope to continue to shine a light on boxing and its impact on young people. Clubs like Fitzroy Lodge really do change lives and communities, but are often struggling and need all the support they can get. We aim to show policy makers that boxing clubs are often as close as you’ll get to a silver bullet in tackling gang culture, and behaviour that leads to rioting, and that resources channelled here could not be better spent.
The Taster Session is part of on-going work of the APPG on Boxing highlighting the social effects of boxing. During the Olympics, the group published research suggesting young people who went to a boxing club were significantly less likely than their peers to be involved in the riots of August 2011. The Group is currently undergoing an enquiry into collecting evidence of the impact of boxing, and persuading policy makers to put boxing at the heart of educational and social interventions.
The APPG for Boxing featured in a report on Radio 4′s ‘The World at One’ today, following the launch of the inquiry into the impact of boxing for the lives of young people.
As Team GB boxers go for glory in the ring at London 2012 just one year on from last summer’s riots, a cross-party group of MPs and Peers has published the results of an ongoing investigation into the role that boxing clubs play in disadvantaged communities.
The survey, conducted by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Boxing, shows that while many clubs are performing an important role in their communities, they face significant challenges when it comes to accessing funding.
The group contacted clubs in parts of London and Bristol hit by last summer’s riots, and the responses they received revealed the following:
- Of the 1200 boxers reported to be regularly attending clubs in riot-hit areas (of which 223 were identified as young offenders) only 3 were identified as having participated in the rioting.
- On average, clubs gave a score of 4 out of 10 when asked to rate how easy it was to secure funding, with 1 being “absolutely impossible” and 10 being “really easy”.
- The most common financial challenge identified by clubs was a lack of available funding streams.
Charlotte Leslie MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Boxing Group, said:
“The week that we might see Team GB win gold in the ring at London 2012 is also the anniversary of last summer’s riots. This is a timely reminder that sport, and boxing in particular, can make a huge difference in the lives of young people who might otherwise take the wrong path. Someone who was rioting in 2011 may, had things gone differently, have ended up competing for Olympic glory in 2012.”
“This survey is only the start of a much more detailed examination of the role played by boxing clubs and sport more generally in areas affected by crime and anti-social behaviour. The vast majority of clubs we have spoken to told us they are facing an uphill struggle to find funding. This is something that needs to change if we are to ensure that more young people are given the support and structure they need to make a success of their life.”
Yesterday the chair of the APPG for Boxing, Charlotte Leslie MP, visited the Fight for Peace Academy in Newham to hear about its successful strategy for engaging young people in communities affected by crime and violence.
Fight for Peace was established in the favelas (shantytowns) of Rio de Jinero in 2000 by Luke Dowdney MBE. Since then the organisation has developed its ‘Five Pillars’ methodology, which combines boxing and martial arts with education and personal development courses, and this approach is now being shared with organisations across the world. “After ten years we are now in a position to share what we do,” said James Baderman, who leads the Global Aulmni Programme. “We’ve trained nine organisations in eight countries, including Kenya, Costa Rica and Los Angeles.”
Since its establishment in November 2007, the Academy in East London has grown to offer a range of activities and programmes to members aged between 14 and 23 including boxing, Muay Thai, capoeira, karate and gym sessions as well as nationally recognised education courses, one-to-one mentoring, job training and other support services for young people. In 2011 750 young people came through the doors of the Academy, over half of which were newcomers.
The visit provided an opportunity to speak to some of the Academy’s members. A member of Youth Council, Michael, referred to the structure of Fight for Peace as a major strength, highlighting that it was run by young people, for young people. Another member, Layla, said this ethos continues in the gym, with all standards of competitor training together. Reference was also made to the role of coaches as mentors, for whom the wellbeing of members is the first priority.
The Pathways Education to Employment Project was discussed at length. The project, developed over four years, offers the training and specialised support required for young people to successfully access the job market. In 2011 a total of 26 learners completed two Modules (the equivalent of 8 GCSEs), with the large majority progressing into employment.
Further details about the achievements of Fight for Peace can be read in their Annual Report, which can be downloaded here.