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Post People: Boxers bid to make Barking mosque a hub for non-Muslims too

PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 November 2016 | UPDATED: 15:28 21 November 2016

Sultan Malik, centre, with his Touch Gloves Boxing class in Barking Picture: Touch Gloves Boxing

Sultan Malik, centre, with his Touch Gloves Boxing class in Barking Picture: Touch Gloves Boxing

Archant

Coach Sultan Malik, 33, talks to Seb Murphy-Bates about making his mosque a building for the whole community with his Touch Gloves Boxing scheme

“A mosque shouldn’t just be a place to turn up, pray and lock the door. It’s a hub for the whole community, Muslim or non-Muslim.

“That’s why when we set up a boxing group at Al Madina Mosque in Victoria Road, Barking, we called it Touch Gloves Boxing instead of something like Al Madina Boxing – we didn’t want to exclude anybody so we didn’t give it an Islamic name.

“We want people from other backgrounds and faiths and people of no faith at all to come in. We don’t want people to feel uncomfortable like it’s a Muslim-only club. We’re open, we’re diverse and we want people to come in, get involved and get fit.

“I used my boxing background to set the group up four months ago and the group’s grown a lot since then. We have children, teenagers and adults coming regularly. A lot of them have never even done boxing before, they’re just working class people trying to keep fit. They learn from scratch and their knowledge grows.

“A lot of parents send their children to us because they don’t have a lot of confidence in social environments. We help them overcome that by letting them network with other youngsters at the classes.

“We also have kids with health problems, such as being overweight or having behavioural issues – it’s a very mixed group.

“Right now we’re looking to grow, which is why we’re holding a fundraising event on Sunday next week at Boleyn Banqueting Suite in East Ham. We’re charging £9 a ticket for talks, fights and demonstrations from 4pm to 8pm in the hope that we can buy some new equipment.

“This is just one example of the outreach work the mosque does, we also feed the homeless and have a counselling service.

“In the current climate Muslims aren’t painted in the best of light but at Al Madina we want to spread hope, helping Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”

Touch Gloves Boxing class times vary. Call 07399973609 for details.

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