Great Britain’s boxing team have been continuing their impressive work in the London boroughs as the British Lionhearts in the Community (BLITC) campaign launched for its second season.
Olympic boxers and coaches took to the Houses of Parliament to speak at an event hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group last week, meeting to reflect on excellent progress made in the first year.
The British Lionhearts compete in the World Series of Boxing, with the BLITC a community grassroots project which has already launched 12 new community boxing hubs.
That saw engagement with 2,321 participants, with 1,972 – 85 per cent – of those signed up to be directed to their local boxing club, all in the very first year.
Looking to get bigger and better in its second year, Rio 2016 Olympic boxers Muhammad Ali and Pat McCormack were on hand to celebrate not only the achievements, but their importance in boosting grassroots boxing.
Ali said: “I got into boxing because I wanted to do something with myself and not just be one of those kids that hang around the street, so it is great that through the Lionhearts we are able to inspire other people to take-up the sport.”
(Minister for Sport, Tracey Crouch and Keera Sweeney (from BLITC project))
Of the 2,000 plus who took to the ring over the first year, 20 per cent of those had previously been inactive when it came to sport.
That’s a figure the Lionhearts were delighted to address, with Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch MP among those to praise the efforts in the community.
The second year will see six more London boroughs brought in engagement with a further 1,500 people looking to take part, also creating five new community boxing hubs, delivering five Junior Citizenship workshops and recruiting 120 coaches or volunteers.
The BLITC’s work has also been an award-winning venture, winning the ‘Harnessing the Power of Elite Sport’ gong at the London Sports Awards for 2016 back in January.
(Charlotte Leslie MP, Chair APPG for Boxing)
The programme is delivered through a series of community engagement days held in busy public spaces and features a mobile boxing ring managed by trained England Boxing coaches.
Members of the public are given the opportunity to try boxing training, learn basic skills and sample aspects of the sport such as hitting a punchbag or punching pads with a coach.
Those who show an interest in learning more about the sport are directed to their local boxing club. There are also opportunities for people to learn about coaching and volunteering opportunities in boxing in their local area.
Matthew Ryder, Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement in the Office of the Mayor of London said: “It is fantastic news that British Lionhearts in the Community continues to expand across London, offering more opportunities for young Londoners to get involved in this great sport.
“Boxing helps to bring people from different faiths, backgrounds and genders together. One of the Mayor’s biggest priorities is to create a more integrated London where communities don’t just live side by side, but interact both professionally and socially.”
The British Lionhearts return to the ring on Thursday, April 6, when the France Fighting Roosters come to town for the bout in York Hall.