WE all see the bright lights of competition but there is another side to the sport that can pass unnoticed. As well as helping boxers succeed in the ring, clubs do help them in the rest of their lives. Fight For Peace is a boxing charity that has a programme which formalises that work. It offers young people boxing and martial arts sessions as well as helping them get into education and employment. Fight For Peace is based in London and Rio De Janeiro and will link up with Team GB in the run up to the next Olympic Games.
“It’s a great chance for us to team up with one of the best sports performance teams in the world, in terms of results. Team GB is such a professional operation. I’ve always believed that young people coming out of a programme like this can go all the way and be champions and at the same time you don’t leave behind young people that don’t have that skill. You can do sport for inclusion and sport fitness at the same time. We’ve seen that already, without even trying we’ve seen champions come up in Brazil, where we’re a bit older, across all sports. We’ve got national and state champions in Brazil across six sports at the moment,” Luke Dowdney, the founder of the charity, told Boxing News. “If you can have a sports performance strategy with the support of Team GB to really give young people pathways on to national programmes and you combine that with all the other stuff we’re doing. Everyone’s aware now to make a successful athlete you can’t just work on the sport you’ve got to look at them as a whole, they’re family life, what they’re eating, how they’re living, the relationships they’ve got. That’s how sports training is happening now. There’s a natural fit there.”
The charity has a tremendous effect in the demanding areas where it’s based. “All cities have their issues, all urban centres have their issues. What we do know, around the world, not just in Brazil, more people die from violent actions outside of war zones than they do in conflict zones,” Luke continued. “We need to offer young people a way out of that so that being involved in a gang becomes the worst possible choice rather than the only choice and that’s what we’re doing here at Fight For Peace.”
There is another side to Rio, beyond the glamour of the impending Olympic Games. “Unfortunately there have been 35 homicides in our community in Rio since August of last year, just in that community and there were two and a half thousands troops on the streets there were tanks,” Dowdney said. “That’s a very extreme situation.
“But young people are still excluded here and they need the chance to step in and be part of something.”
Fight For Peace is spreading its working practices and programmes to other gyms and boxing clubs and Nicola Adams has also joined them as an ambassador. “Someone like Nicola who can say I’ve got there but I still care about where I come from and what you’re doing in your life and I can be an example to you and be that open and that friendly and sit around with young people is massively inspirational for them. We honoured to have her here,” Dowdney said.