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Investing in our future through boxing gyms

During the summer holidays Thermal Road Repairs sponsored a workshop at the Moss Side Fire Station Boxing Club in Manchester. Up-and-coming young boxers Delicious Orie - known as Dj - and Conner Tudsbury ran workshops at the club over two weeks, with meals and nutritional advice provided at each session, as well as boxing training and exercises.

We caught up with Nigel Travis, head coach at Moss Side Fire Station Boxing Club, and Charlotte Gilley MBE, founder of charity Maverick Stars Trust which helped to set up the 'Train Like a GB Boxer' programme at Moss Side, to find out what impact the sessions have had.

For Nigel, the workshops are all about inspiring local children. “The most successful boxing clubs in the world prosper in areas of deprivation, and Moss Side has one of the highest levels of deprivation in the country, never mind the city,” says Nigel. “It really hits home for these kids that they can achieve what Dj and Conner are achieving.”

The two boxers, who are friends as well as ambassadors for Maverick Stars Trust, are both aiming to fight for Great Britain at the 2024 Olympics. Recent successes include a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2022 for Dj and gold at the 2019 GB Boxing Championships for Conner. Conner is a home-grown talent for Moss Side who has been training at the club since he was eight years old.

The summer holiday sessions were not simply about improving the boxing skills of children already attending the club, explains Charlotte. “The workshops were about providing a safe place for the kids to come in off the street,” says Charlotte. “Some of them might not come from homes where the parents are able to look out for them. Boxing gyms are often safe havens.”

These sessions were free and available for any local children, not only those who were already going to the gym. A small number of children who came to the gym for the first time through the workshop have now started to come regularly and train.

As well as improving the life chances of individual children, boxing gyms have been proven to reduce crime in surrounding areas. “Even where kids are in rival gangs, when they walk through the door of the gym all that is left behind,” explains Charlotte.

Moss Side Fire Station Boxing Club was founded by Nigel and two fellow fire fighters back in 2008 and is on the site of the Fire Station. Nigel is still employed by the fire service but now works only at the gym.

Charlotte founded Maverick Stars Trust having started training at her local club after a friend suggested boxing as a way to overcome anxiety. Going on to box competitively for the club she joined, Charlotte realised the positive benefits that boxing clubs deliver to local people and communities and set up the Trust to provide financial and practical support.

Boxing clubs aren’t just about producing good boxers, explains Nigel. They are about giving children the life skills, self confidence and motivation to go on and do whatever they aspire to in life.

“Hopefully other people can see the wonderful successes we’re having and that these kids do aspire to be great,” says Nigel. “We believe they are going to save the world and we believe they should be supported to do so. Companies like Thermal Road Repairs are an integral part of the work we do.”


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