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Friday, 11 April 2008

Boxing Clever

Boxing's had a hard press in the past, but now the tide is turning: The Evening Post recently devoted a double page spread to the merits of boxing, and at the same time, Avonmouth's National Smelting Boxing Club got the fantastic news that they have finally been given the go-ahead to expand their boxing gym.

I have been supporting the club's coach, Garry Cave, in his bid for funds and know the enormous amount of work ( mostly paperwork) that went into providing more sporting opportunities for our local youngsters. The gym is nearly always packed and I have always been struck by how polite, dedicated and disciplined the young boxers are.

I've not really got the nose for really competitive boxing, but I used to train with local legend, Jane Couch at Spanniorum Farm Gym. I know first hand just how important boxing is in giving young people a chance to let of steam in a secure, disciplined environment - particularly our boys who are falling behind girls at school, playing truant and being expelled or suspended at an alarming rate.

Our young people risk being suffocated by a health-and-safety cotton-wool culture. But the results of bottling up young people's energy and natural aggression are disastrous - just ask anyone living on a street plagued by bored kids, and sometimes violent anti-social behaviour. I know that young men ( and women!) who take up boxing build self esteem, get fit, learn discipline and respect, so do better at school and no longer feel they have to prove themselves by picking a fight- but can walk away.

These days, I enjoy training at Southmead boxing club, under the expert supervision of the coach, Lee Cummings. Areas like Southmead really need a boxing club like Lee's - and they've got some talented boxers in the making, as I saw when two of them competed in a big contest last night. I'm working with local clubs to make boxing more available to more young people. Not only is it a great way to get fit and let off steam, it's also one of the best ways to tackle youth crime. No wonder the Police support it. So a simple message to the National Smelting and Southmead Boxing Club - well done, and let's keep up the good work!

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