Boxing helps youths avoid gang culture

Boxing helps youths avoid gang culture
Dale Youth amateur Boxing Club

Powerday’s Mick Crossan helping club in the neighbourhood in which he grew up

A London Irish businessman has pulled together several other leading businesses in the city to help restore a boxing gym that was destroyed in last year’s Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Powerday boss Mick Crossan, who is also the majority owner of premiership rugby club London Irish, believes one of the biggest ways to combat gang and street violence is to make sports facilities like boxing clubs available to young people in some of the capital’s most deprived or unequal neighbourhoods.

Crossan, whose father and mother came to England from Cavan and Galway, grew up on Latimer Road near where the ill-fated tower is located, was behind the state-of-the-art boxing Dale Youth Boxing Academy gym in the lower level of Grenfell Tower.

“I just feel the self-discipline the kids learn helps them in the rest of their lives. We also try find jobs for a lot of them, who are usually quite strong and handy and ours is a very physical line of work.

“Some of them told me that they felt if they did not join a gang it would be difficult for them to walk around their estates, so we tell them to join our ‘gang’ instead,” said Mr Crossan.

Olympic gold medallist James DeGale, 32, and world middleweight champion boxer George Groves, 30, are among the top class boxers who had trained in the venue.

The millionaire businessman owns the waste and recycling company Powerday which has a huge facility by Willesden Junction – where it also uses London’s canal network – and yards all over the city.

Former Amateur Boxer

A former amateur boxer himself he has, over the years, contributed to the growth in boxing clubs and socially progressive, anti-gang initiatives le “Jab Not Stab” and “Gloves Not Gangs”. He has also been a longtime supporter, sponsor and patron of World Middleweight champion George Groves.

Crossan’s Powerday Development Programme has in the last four years alone raised more than £7.5 million to help volunteers to do more for young people and communities in the most marginalised areas of the capital. But he insists that it has not been just him, he has enlisted the support of several business contacts among other leading companies in the construction industry including house builder Galliard Homes, Quattro and groundwork specialists Modesbest.

The Grenfell Tower gym, Dale Youth Boxing Academy, will be relocated under the Westway at Ladbroke Grove where the ground was broken on the project just last week. The £2m project has enlisted the support of BBC Television’s popular DIY SOS programme.

Boxing helps youths avoid gang culture
Click the image to watch Nick Knowles (17mins in), talking about the project.

Mick and Ed Crossan are also behind a new boxing club in Gunnersbury, The Powerday Hooks Club, in a once dilapidated former scouts hut and body building venue.

A week before opening some people broke into the newly refurbished club HQ and set it on fire. The damage was limited but has required new electrics, doors, re-painting and other work to get back into order. Club leader Steve Newland: “We may have been knocked down but we have not been knocked out with the Crossans and Powerday in our corner.”

The opening, by unified world heavyweight champion boxer Anthony Joshua, is now planned for the first week of next month.

The Powerday Initiative has also raised £200,000 in funding for Repton Boxing Club.

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