BOXING champion George Groves pledged his support to a pioneering scheme which aims to keep youngsters in Fulham on the right path.
The 24-year-old Commonwealth super-middleweight title holder saw members of the Sands End Police Community Boxing Club in action at Hurlingham and Chelsea School, in Peterborough Road, on Monday before officially becoming its patron.
Launched in 2010, the initiative has taught boxing skills and life coaching to about 1,000 teenagers who live or go to school in the borough and is run by local police and youth workers.
Daily training sessions at the club include modules on junior citizenship and policing issues including gun, knife and gang crime, while other subjects such as bullying, truancy, drugs, tobacco, alcohol, robbery, graffiti, anti-social behaviour and road safety are also covered.
The boxing part of the training session focuses on warming up and stretching, skipping, boxing techniques, shadow boxing, pad work and bag work, and fun circuit training.
Hammersmith-born Mr Groves, nicknamed Saint, said: “This in my opinion is fantastic for young adults to teach a variety of skills they can go on and use in later life. Having as many opportunities as possible that can appeal to youths of today will certainly decrease the number of teenagers being attracted to gang culture.
“In boxing you have to be dedicated, show self-control and respect. It requires a lot of hard work through training physically and also mentally. I support the police in their aim to help these teenagers, and with the correct coaching and funding it will certainly be a huge success. I am pleased to be a part of it all.”
The school is the first in the UK to offer boxing as a formal qualification in the form of the Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network (ASDN).
Sport England bestowed its Clubmark award on the club and the Amateur Boxing Association named it Youth Engagement Project of the Year.
Police community support officer Richard Powers, of the Sands End Safer Neighbourhoods Team, said: “The club has been on an amazing journey so far, from being recognised nationally and locally for the work we are doing in Hammersmith and Fulham to now having George Groves supporting our boxing project by becoming the sports youth engagement ambassador and club patron. He is a true inspiration to our students and we are so proud to have his backing and support.
“None of this would have been possible without the hard work of our community sports coaches who volunteer their time, or the support from our local schools, businesses and community.”
To find out more visit www.sandsendabc.org.uk.