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ITC: Limehouse Boxing Academy, London

August 9 2023

Boxing's beating heartbeat in the shadows of the City!

Matchroom Boxing built up to Saturday’s blockbuster fight at the O2 Arena between Anthony Joshua and Robert Helenius by paying a visit to Limehouse Boxing Academy, learning that boxing is more than just a sport – it’s a force for positive change.

Matchroom Chairman, Eddie Hearn joined four fighters involved in Saturday’s undercard – Johnny Fisher, George Liddard, Maiseyrose Courtney and Brandon Scott – as well as new Matchroom signing, Giorgio Visioli, to deliver a guest session, Q+A and VIP tickets to lucky youngsters.

Matchroom Boxing CEO, Frank Smith, plus internet sensation – and father of Johnny Fisher – Big John, were also in attendance to provide support from the sidelines as competition participants strained every sinew to win the prizes on offer.

In addition to the Matchroom Boxing cameras, BBC London were present to film a special grassroots feature – as well as a host of other media, including MailOnline, iFL TV, Boxing Social, Seconds Out, Pro Boxing Fans and Boxing UK.

Limehouse Boxing Academy

The club was formed in 2015, operating from the Spotlight Youth Centre in Poplar since 2017.

In their 8 years, the club have produced a National Development Champion, NABGC Champion, two London Elite Champions and Elite Finalist, 3 Haringey Cup Gold Medallists and a National Elite Female Champion. Louis Horn and Chris Bourke are current professional boxers who previously boxed for Limehouse Boxing Academy.

Head Coach, Mark Collings, runs the England Boxing DiSE Programme from the gym, with course alumni including: Ted Cheeseman, Archie Sharp, 5 GB representatives – Harvey Horn, Chris Bourke, Dan Woledge, Billy Adams and Vivian Parsons – and England Internationals, Tom Welland, Freddie Pullen and Frankie Wood.

The club launched the KO Racism campaign in 2016 as an education programme for schools, using boxing to call upon young people to promote anti-racism and eliminate discrimination. The scheme places emphasis on wiping out racial intolerance and abuse online, particularly on social media.

Limehouse Boxing Academy are heavily involved in developing their local community, engaging with knife crime prevention and employability schemes, as well as many more meaningful grassroots initiatives. They’ve even produced a Heritage Lottery Film on the topic of immigration and boxing in the East End, with a focus on the Jewish community in the early 20th Century and the Windrush generation.

It's vital for any young person to understand what kind of energy you need to succeed.

- Mark Collings

The importance of visits like this must not be understated, with feedback from the club and youngsters themselves being overwhelmingly positive.

“It was a real uplift for all the boxers to have Eddie Hearn and the Matchroom team in the gym,” commented Head Coach, Mark Collings.

“It’s vital for the boxers and for any young person to understand what kind of energy you need to succeed – and not just in boxing, but in any walk of life. That energy was there with Eddie and his boxers. The youngsters loved it and learned a lot.”

A post-event survey has revealed that 100% of the young people in attendance ‘agreed’ or ‘strongly agreed’ that they felt more confident, motivated, empowered and optimistic as a result of our visit. That said, we’re determined to not just provide an inspirational experience, but to leave a lasting legacy in the communities we visit.

As such, plans are already in place for Head of Community Development, Alex Le Guével, to revisit the club later this year to deliver a motivational talk focusing on the topic of careers in the sports industry.

A huge thank you must be reserved for Mark Collings and Shah Rahman from Limehouse Boxing Academy, as well as Nahim Ahmed MBE and his team at Spotlight for being so patient, helpful and accommodating as the event was planned. The progress you are making in improving the lives of young people across London is truly phenomenal and it was a privilege to amplify your work with today’s visit.