Fighting their corner

Gangs and knife crime are being tackled – by a boxing club threatened with closure six months ago.

West Kilburn’s All Stars gym’s initiative is proving so effective, reports the This Is London website, that it’s set to be copied across London.

A roll-call of past British champions on its books, including heavyweight Frank Bruno, was not enough to prevent the gym from closure due to rising rents back in December.

But 73-year-old Isola Akay, who founded the gym in 1974, told the website ‘it had a crucial role to play in training future boxers and rehabilitating gang members’.

This Is London reports that it is to be used as the template for Boris Johnson’s plans to build more boxing academies to curb youth violence following the killings of 16 teenagers in London this year.

According to the website, Mr Johnson, who visited All Stars during his election campaign, has agreed to support Mr Akay’s idea of a Mayor’s Cup, an amateur boxing tournament.

Westminster council also wants to compulsorily purchase the gym and fund an extension for a community centre offering more sports and activities, according the the website.

Mr Akay said:

Suddenly everybody is recognising the work we’ve being doing for over 30 years. It is not just about boxing, not all of the kids can be champions.

These kids hanging around street corners, carrying knives, they’re full of fear and feel insecure. They come from broken homes with no positive role models. At the club I speak to them individually. They know they can talk to me about any problems they have.

He had even had tagged young men training in the gym, he added.

Once they start training, they learn discipline and respect for their opponent. Once they have that confidence, they can go outside and they do not need to carry knives or get into fights to assert themselves. We give them a family they can belong to. They don’t need the negative influence of the older gang members.

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One Response

  1. I think there’s a certain irony to having supervised fighting promoted as an alternative to kids fighting on the streets.

    Yes, I know boxing’s a “sport”. You know what I mean though.

    Still, a relatively safe outlet for aggression has to be a preferable one…

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