Youngsters don gloves at Barking boxing club as community comes out fighting against knife crime

PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 September 2019

L-R: PCSO Gary Stow, TKO's Johnny Eames and Steven Dang with PC Gareth Hall. Picture: Saj Goraya

L-R: PCSO Gary Stow, TKO's Johnny Eames and Steven Dang with PC Gareth Hall. Picture: Saj Goraya


A school, community group and sports club have teamed up to get young people to pick up boxing gloves instead of knives.

Greatfields School in Barking, TKO Boxing Club and The Community Project based on the Gascoigne Estate want to steer youngsters away from trouble and improve their relationships with the police.

Saj Goraya, director of The Community Project, said: "Knife crime is massive in Barking and Dagenham. We need all the players to come together to tackle it."

The school in St Mary's is expected to have 2,400 pupils on its roll following expansion which will include a primary school and new classrooms.

Saj said: "It's a school that's growing. We want to get the children when they are still young so we can help mould them."

As part of the plans, about 20 pupils were put through their paces in a training session at TKO's Abbey Leisure Centre base in Bobby Moore Way.

Greatfields' assitant headteacher Bradley Reece said: "This club will allow students to reach out to the places other sports do not reach.

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"Boxing, amongst other contact sports, creates an environment for young people where they are able to recognise their frustration and aggression.

"The aim of this club is to allow students to develop their discipline and channel their aggression through sport."

At the moment the participants will get five weeks' worth of training sessions, but the organisers are hoping to extend that.

Saj, of Cranborne Road, Barking, said: "Young people want something to do, not waste their time doing nothing on the streets.

"When the community grows, if there's nothing for them to be engaged in then they will be vulnerable."

He added there wasn't much for children to do on the estate at the moment with some parents too busy putting food on the table to provide more.

The 39-year-old, who has been on Gascoigne's safer neighbourhood panel, explained the team aren't just teaching youngsters how to box, but striking up positive relationships with them and involving the police, who dropped into the first session.

The next Gascoigne safer neighbourhood panel meeting is at 7pm on November 13 at Barking Library in Town Square.

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