Bidding to Box away knife crime in Stoke-on-Trent

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Dave Roberts (L) Stafan Hanks (R)

A Stoke-on-Trent boxing coach is bidding to help prevent knife crime by encouraging young people to engage in sport.

Stefan Hanks, who is the head coach at Colosseum Gym in Longton, has experienced first hand the affects of knife crime and is encouraging young people to get involved with boxing instead of going down a wrong path.

“Knife crime is becoming a real issue all over the country – we want to help prevent it. We don’t want knife crime to increase in Stoke-on-Trent, so we want to offer kids an outlet for their frustration,” says Stefan. “Boxing training provides a structured focus for anger while keeping fit and meeting new friends. I want to say to young Stokies – put your knives down and your gloves on!”

On May 12, young boxers will take part in boxing event – Knocking Out Knife Crime – at the Kings Hall in Stoke-on-Trent, which has been organised by Stefan. The event is open to young children and teenagers and the 39-year-old coach is hoping to raise awareness of making the area a safer place through sport.

“There’s plenty of evidence to show that boxing gives youngsters a sense of belonging, vital to keeping them out of gangs and committing crime,” adds Stefan of Trentham.

David Roberts, who is a Hatton Academy Boxing for Fitness certified instructor, assists Stefan at the Colosseum Gym. He explains how boxing calms behaviours and gives young people a focus and better anger management.

“Boxing provides a fantastic opportunity to get fit while having fun,” said the 48-year-old. “We teach both basic and advanced boxing techniques as well as circuit training in a safe, well-equipped and friendly gym. We want to help local kids have a fighting chance, not become victims of knife attacks or locked up for carrying a blade.”

Ryan Arnold, aged 15 from Meir, is a member at the Longton gym and admits boxing has benefitted him in more ways than one. He said: “Since taking up boxing, I really feel like part of a community. We train together and box together – it’s not just about boxing – it’s like family.”

Around 25 young people train at the Colosseum Gym where classes take place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Stefan adds: “Both girls and boys, aged from 7 to 16, spend an hour with us each time, getting fitter and learning how to control themselves in and out of the ring.”

Classes from £2 are held at the gym each Monday and Wednesday between 5:30pm- 6:30pm. Full training will be provided for any young people, girls and boys, who would like to learn basic boxing techniques, get fitter, or even take part in the Knocking Out Knife Crime event on Saturday 12th May at The Kings Hall, Stoke.

Stefan and Dave are looking to work with other gyms across Stoke-on-Trent for the event, and are in talks with them. They are also speaking to various local organisations and authorities.

Tickets are on sale via Stefan with more information on the Colosseum Facebook page. Tickets start at £15 standard, £20 ring-side, and doors open at 1pm.

For more information go to: https://www.facebook.com/colosseumstoke/