The Arsenal Foundation

“I’m proud that I've changed”

Rathbone Amateur Boxing Club

The Arsenal Foundation helped Rathbone Amateur Boxing Club run free sessions to help young people in Camden get active. Coach GP, 20, from north London, led the sessions

“I got into boxing when I went to college to do an NVQ in sports science. It wasn’t really what I thought I’d get into, but I didn’t really click with the academic side and leaned more towards sport, so I went to the boxing academy there.

“I found I wasn’t completely terrible, even though I was new to it. Coach Dougie watched me on the pads and said, “Not bad son.” But there were also elite-level boxers there and at that stage I was just happy to hold the pads for them. I was learning all the time.

“Then lockdown happened. It was a hard time for everyone, and to keep myself busy I started doing some pad work with friends outdoors, when we were allowed. I have a neighbour with a younger brother who was 12 and he was being a bit cheeky, asking me if I was a coach, so I said yeah and started teaching him and a few of his friends.

“I stepped up in my second year at the academy I can’t stress what a big influence Dougie was on me. He’s the reason I am where I am today.

“Once I’d finished at college I was looking for work, and Dougie put me in touch with Rachel at Rathbone. I wanted to earn a living, of course, but I was also willing to work for free to get a start. I was of no benefit to the community when I was younger, but I’m proud that I've changed.

“Luckily the club got me a six-month Kickstarter fund to get me into work, and I haven’t looked back. I was still very new to boxing, but soon I was working with youngsters and then senior amateurs, and I enjoyed developing serious people. I’m working on being a professional boxing coach, and that includes building amateur fighters as well.

“The Arsenal Foundation helped us to run a series of sessions to help get kids active in Camden, and it went really well. We had a range of people from 11 to 17 years old, and it was great to see how they improved over the weeks – many of them have signed up with our sister club Hawley ABC and I’m still coaching them now. I was also proud of the feedback I got from the parents, who said they loved the way I was teaching and motivating the kids. I’m not a motivational speaker but I could relate to them. I made sure to include everyone, give them all time and treat them all as if they were my own brothers.

“When you look at the money in top-level sport I think it’s really important that football clubs give help and support to local organisations, and for me it was a big thing to be working on something with The Arsenal Foundation. If the money’s there, it’s good to use it – it can change whole lives.”

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Rathbone Amateur Boxing Club

RABC held a graduation ceremony for the children who took part in the Arsenal-funded project, with coach GP on the right

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