How boxing can help win fight against anti-social behaviour
A BRISTOL MP is hoping the legacy of the Olympic games can tackle anti- social behaviour through the city's boxing clubs.
Bristol North West MP Charlotte Leslie has highlighted the role of clubs around the country in keeping kids out of trouble.
But she also warned that many of the clubs are facing financial difficulty and called for more help in the wake of a successful Olympics in the ring for Team GB.
Ms Leslie pointed to a recent survey showing how an active involvement in boxing can help ensure youngsters avoid trouble such as last summer's riots.
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The survey – which included boxing clubs in London and Bristol – found that engaging children in the sport has kept them off the streets and focussed away from crime.
But the results also showed that many clubs are struggling to sustain themselves with a lack of funding.
Ms Leslie, president of the Avonmouth National Smelting Boxing Club, said that following the success in the Olympics this was the time to make sure boxing clubs do not need to feel fearful about their future.
She said: "Not only anecdotal, but initial evidence is suggesting that teaching young people to box in a controlled environment is likely to ensure they don't cause trouble in wider society.
"This is the first study of its kind and the evidence is that these clubs, many in some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in London as well as inner city Bristol, are satisfying a real social need.
"There are, however, clear issues surround funding with most reporting this as the biggest barrier they have to continuing their work. We must take these findings, build on them, and make sure this is one of the legacies of the Olympic Games."
Ms Leslie said it was also a misconception that boxing was dangerous, especially in the amateur world.
She said: "Most of the time, the youngsters are training but even when they do box, it is heavily monitored. What I would say is to look at the risks of some of these youngsters not boxing. The physical risks of drug and alcohol abuse are far greater."
The survey questioned 23 clubs, including the Broad Plain Club in Bristol, run by Dennis Stinchcombe MBE.
Broad Plain told the survey that they train 350 three- to 27-year-olds each month, costing them £8,000 per month to run the club.
And while they report up to 50 regular attendees who have been an offender in the past and a further 43 who were excluded from school, none were involved in any trouble last year.
Across all the clubs surveyed, which cater for around 1,200 boxers, 223 of whom were young offenders, just three individuals were reported as having been involved in last year's trouble.
Mr Stinchcombe said that boxing clubs like his are playing a vital role in keeping kids out of trouble over the summer.
He said: "With all the activities we have here we are just making sure that kids are doing what they are supposed to be doing with their summer holidays. We don't want a repeat of what happened one year ago in the riots.
"Obviously there are so many cuts going on we are worried about our future and if we take the money away what happens?
"Looking at the results of the survey we should clearly be increasing the amount of funding for projects which give kids the focus they need."