Two dozen young boxers from across Britain punched their way to success this weekend at the inaugural No Messin’ Tri-nation boxing competition, organised by Network Rail and supported by the world’s light welter weight champion Amir Khan.
More than 500 people from the rail industry, sporting world and youth community sector gathered at the De Vere Hotel at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton on Saturday evening to celebrate knocking down railway crime and providing positive activities for young people. Boxers from the five clubs across Britain which Network Rail supports competed in 12 bouts of three 90- second rounds.
Moston and Collyhurst Boxing Club – Moston, Manchester
Gloves Community Centre – Bolton
St Joseph’s Boxing Club – Newport, Wales
Heart of Portsmouth Boxing Academy – Portsmouth
Lochaber Phoenix Boxing Club – Fort William, Scotland
Amongst the guests were ex-champion boxer Michael Gomez, Sean McGoldrick, silver medallist at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, and ex-professional footballer (Bolton Wanderers, Southampton and Wigan Athletic) David Lee.
Commenting on the event, Amir Khan said: “In the three years since we launched Gloves community gym with Network Rail, hundreds of kids have come through our doors. Instead of hanging around the streets or mucking about on the railway, they learn a fun, disciplined sport which keeps them fit and out of trouble.
“It’s great to see so many kids putting their energies into something positive and coming together to compete in this fantastic new competition. Well done to all the lads who fought and I hope this event has helped remind them that this is where they want to be, not getting into trouble, or worse, getting hurt or even killed by messing around on the tracks.”
Martin Gallagher, head of community safety at Network Rail said: “Our partnerships with all the clubs has helped us to raise awareness and spread really important safety messages to young people about the dangers of messing about on the railway, and we’ve seen a significant reduction in railway crime.
“This competition is a celebration of how working in partnership with community groups can deliver real benefits for everyone – most of all the young people who are enjoying the sport and learning a great skill in a safe environment.”
He added: “Railway crime is incredibly dangerous but can also cause massive disruption and cost to the industry. By reducing crime, we can focus investment in improving passenger services and a better railway on which Britain relies.”
Julie Hilling MP for Bolton West, who has a background in youth work and is a member of the Transport Select Committee, also attended the event. She commented: “It is vitally important that our young people have the opportunity to become involved in sports and activities that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access. I am delighted that Network Rail has brought these clubs together from a range of areas and backgrounds. It is an excellent example of an organisation actively engaging with local communities across the country.”
During the interval, it was announced that the boxing ring used for the event will be donated to the Lochaber club. The club along with others recently fell victim to a fraudster; a new boxing ring which had been paid for never arrived. The donation to a small club with limited funds will help them continue their excellent community work.