Yaxley Boxing Club Story: A Satellite Club Success

About the club

A group of teenagers, boys, and girls, are on the floor running through a series of what looks like excruciating core exercises. In place of the moaning you might expect to hear, there’s joking and banter firing back and forth between them. That’s how they get through it, together. The coach is in on it too, light-heartedly threatening to add in more exercises if she hears any moaning. The (slightly grimaced) smiles are what’s really noticeable. This group of young people are all here at Yaxley Boxing Club for very different reasons, but they are all finding a common bond of friendship through their boxing training.

The change

Tyler, Dan and Becky didn’t know each other before they started boxing training. Tyler’s mum found out about the club on Facebook and thought it would be a way to get her 15-year-old son, who loves sport, but too often falls prey to the lure of the X-Box, out of the house and being more active.

Dan’s dad also found the club on Facebook. He knew his 12-year-old son liked watching boxing on TV and thought this might be a way to help him improve his concentration and get him a bit fitter. 

14-year-old Becky’s dad is one of the coaches and even though she already boxes twice a week, felt this session would really help her.

Each of them describes feeling anxious when they first came. Worries about whether they’d fit in, what they’d be asked to do and whether they could do it. Mainly they were nervous because they didn’t know many people there.

For all three, their first session was an eye-opener. Tyler describes a calm and peaceful environment that ‘just brought him in’. He really appreciated the fact that he got to work one-to-one with a coach to learn the basics and wasn’t exposed to training with others who knew more than him.

Dan didn’t expect it to be this good. He thought they’d be mucking around for 30 minutes but he was excited to see that he’s learning to box properly. And the more experienced boxer Becky, says she feels more included here, like she’s supposed to be here. It’s less scary than her other sessions where “everyone else is much better than her”, so she appreciates being on the same level here.

The benefits these young people have experienced since attending the boxing sessions are quite personal.

The difference

Tyler usually keeps things tight to his chest and doesn’t talk about his feelings but was finding this regularly spilled out as anger. Now he finds boxing gives him an outlet to vent that anger. It’s a release that allows him to take his mind off it instead of dwelling on arguments or negative feelings. He says he no longer has “anger stuck in my system. I leave it all in the bag”. He’s seeing the benefits of this new approach at home, with better relationships, at school with better behaviour and in his rugby, where he’s learning to have greater respect for his teammates, officials and coaches. His rugby is improving too as he now tries to learn from things that go wrong and to respect others who tell him he needs to work on things to get better.

The club was designed for young people with, or at risk of developing, behavioural problems, providing discipline and direction. The club has been running for over a year and has around 10-15 attendees each week.

Tyler, Dan and Becky’s names have been changed for privacy reasons.

Dan feels fitter and more relaxed because of the boxing. Again, he finds using the punch bags relieves any stresses. He says he can handle most punishments and being told off now, but interestingly this is happening less and less as his behaviour at school improves. What he’s most proud of is the change in his ability to concentrate. Previously, in school tests he’d be trying to read the questions and would find his mind constantly wandering off. Now he finds he can focus on the question and think through what the answer is going to be.

Becky has come to the boxing sessions with some friends and she’s just as happy to see the change in them as in herself. She says she feels stronger mentally and physically and she and her friends are more confident to make friends in and out of the club. Generally, she and those around her are happier in themselves and happier with their bodies. Something Becky feels very strongly about.

There’s a level of confidence evident in these young people and their ability to reflect on their own areas of personal development shows maturity beyond their years. In this supportive environment, through fun and friendship, they seem to have found something much more than just that strong core.

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