Tyson Fury and his journey through boxing

I was very interested to hear that Tyson Fury launches his brand new, three-part series called, “Tyson Fury: The Gypsy King”. This very much links to my past, my present and even to the plans I have for the future, in quite an extraordinary way. My past, because of my links with the Gypsy fraternity through England Boxing, my present, because I want to offer support to the many young athletes in our region through sport, and the future, because, as Tyson Fury fears, what will life offer him after he leaves the safety of his sporting world, the future for me, is focusing on Sport Skills 4 Business, which deals exactly with this issue.

The link with the past is simply my time with England Boxing, and how the gypsy fraternity and their children played such a significant part in my life, offering me unique key moments during my journey to becoming a world Class coach and eventually a member of the 2012 Olympic Team. Most life experiences, if you track back will play a part in the person you will eventually become, I can say, without a doubt, these gypsy children made an incredible impact on me!

Gypsy children learn the art of boxing at a very young age, as young as 6 years old, most because they suffer such bullying in their lives from others, it’s a protection mechanism, self-preservation you could say. Many Gypsy children will suffer prejudice, name calling and physical abuse, one boy experienced such terrible abuse, he had to move school a total of nine times, for the gypsy fraternity, protection is very easy, fight back, its this backdrop of life struggles that creates the culture and environment of the art of boxing that is weaved into their lives.

These children simply see their boxing skills as a way to offer a deterrent to others, a way to “push back”, make those who see them as easy targets, as a minority, think twice before they approach with harmful intentions. A few years ago there was a reality show called Gypsy Kids, one of the boys, called Jack Joe, said of his class mates, “they all bully me and call me pikey”, its taunts and abuse such as this, that makes these boys come out fighting, they expect this sort of treatment before it even begins, which means in turn, they prepare for it.

The gypsy dads introduce their children to the art of boxing very young, at 6 years olds they are taught how to jab, deliver a straight right, hook, duck, roll and counter, they are introduced to sparing very young as well, these children are prepared to be tough, hard, resilient at a tender age, its easy to see why gypsy children have a reputation as fighters. It’s this preparation that actually leads to a very positive aspect for many gypsy boys, they find a structured life in sport through joining local boxing clubs.

There are thousands of boxing clubs across the UK, these clubs are very special places, I know, because I attended one myself in Ipswich, the Arcade Boxing Club, I’m sure many of you reading this article now, will remember Percy, and his team of boxing coaches who all looked after us young lads when we turned up to learn how to fight. For me, a small lad, who got picked on quite a lot, I can really connect with the gypsy boys, I wanted to learn how to fight, so I too, could protect myself, but when you join a boxing club, you are offered so much more than just the art of boxing, it offers a culture of discipline, structure, and an introduction to sport and the many benefits it offers, including a possible living in the lucrative arena of the world of boxing, which many gypsy lads, like Tyson Fury, dream of.

The local boxing clubs across the land offer so much more, a team of coaches who coach, not for money, but for the love of the sport and the opportunity to save many of the young boys who come through their boxing club doors. Many of these boys like to fight, this aggression will often spill onto the streets, the boxing club offers them an environment and a positive influence that turns them into athletes, sportsmen, and ultimately a possible career in competitive sport, with the dream of becoming an Olympian.

Joining a boxing club led to me becoming part of the Karate England squad, and eventually becoming a Kick Boxing National Champion. This in turn, took me on a life trajectory that would see me travel the World as a sporting coach, and become part of Judy Murrays Olympic Tennis team. This is exactly the power that sport can have, I could have easily took my young frustrations on to the street, and become part of a negative social statistic, but sport gave me a structure, a second family, a dream, purpose, and a pathway to an exit from sport, and into an exciting career and life, exactly what every gypsy child hopes for when they first walk through the doors of their first boxing club!

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