The Big Lottery funded programme began in summer 2016 after initial pilot sessions delivered by the Box Cleva charity highlighted a need for an intervention to help tackle local anti-social behaviour.
The project funds 11 programmes at boxing clubs across Hertfordshire and often, the young people who take part in the weekly ‘Big Hit’ sessions are those at risk of engaging in low level crime, and of getting in with the wrong crowd. The young participants not only train hard and learn about the sweet science, but also benefit from an interwoven educational and awareness programme around resilience, substance misuse, bullying and healthy eating.
Bob Williams, founder of Box Cleva and Boxing Development Officer for the Big Hit project said:
“Events like this just don’t happen for many of these youngsters – many of whom come from some of the county’s more disadvantaged communities. Box Cleva and the trainers are proud of how hard these kids work towards their awards. Our celebrity guests have shown them that with dedication comes reward, and that if they set their minds to it, they can achieve anything. I hope that the young boxers from the all of the Box Cleva projects had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed themselves here today. To see them proudly collecting their awards after putting in so much effort over recent weeks, brought a tear to my eye."
The event opened with an interactive group skills session where the young participants skipped and showed off their pad work to onlooking parents and carers, and were encouraged by Ted Cheeseman who moved amongst them with his WBA International Super Welterweight belt.
The exhausting practical session was followed by lunch - provided courtesy of Herts Catering Ltd - and the Big Hit awards ceremony at the university’s Weston Auditorium, where Hertfordshire dignitaries handed out awards to the local boxers.
Mayors and Chairman were joined by former WBC Light Heavyweight World Champion Conteh, Bermondsey born Cheeseman, and Sean Murphy - Anthony Joshua’s trainer when he was coming up through the amateur ranks, and a champion in his own right, having won gold at the 1986 Commonwealth Games. All three delivered motivational speeches to those assembled – urging the young participants to have self-belief and to work hard in pursuit of their personal goals.
John O’Callaghan, Director of the Herts Sports Partnership, the Big Hit project co-ordinators and event organisers said:
“I have seen first-hand how sport can be used as a powerful vehicle to raise the aspirations and improve the life chances of our young people - and, this programme is a living example of that. I am particularly proud of our leadership on this project and indebted to our friends at Box Cleva, and our various funding partners for their unstinting support. Make no bones about it, this project is changing lives for the better and it was no co-incidence that we held the celebration event here at the University of Hertfordshire. Exposure to its state of the art facilities, coupled with the presence of fantastic role models in John, Ted and Sean, will hopefully have sown the seeds within some of those young people and their families, that a university education – and all that comes with it in terms of personal development and future opportunities – is well within reach, if they work hard and apply themselves.
I look forward to learning about the continued development of these young people and hopefully to welcoming some of them back to the university as students, in the years to come.”
Hertfordshire’s Big Hit has one more year of funding remaining, during which time Box Cleva will continue to seek further investment to ensure ongoing opportunities for young people.
For more information on the project, or to discuss getting involved, please contact Will Slemmings firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01707 283249.