A whole host of boxing personalities were in attendance as a campaign to “KO Racism” was launched at the Spotlight Youth Centre in London. The groundbreaking event was supported by the Mayor of London.
“KO Racism” was founded by England coaches Mark Collings and Shah Rahman of the Limehouse Boxing Academy. It aims to educate11-17 year olds on the multicultural nature of boxing and to encourage and celebrate diversity within the sport.
Former WBC European and British flyweight champion Charlie Magri, who was chief guest, was impressed with the interest shown by the young people. “It’s beautiful how our communities are united through sports like boxing,” he said. “It’s amazing to see how happy the young people look. Boxing is an outlet and it kept me out of trouble when I was a young man. It’ll serve the same purpose for those who choose to benefit from this programme.”
The launch also saw a guest appearance from Darran Langley – two times ABA light flyweight champion, Commonwealth Silver medallist and GB Boxing Performance Coach. Speaking to eager starry-eyed youngsters, Langley had some sound advice: “Enjoy the sport and let the discipline enrich your good nature. A boxer has a short career but if you love boxing then it can only be beneficial in the long run.”
Founded by Limehouse Boxing Academy coaches Mark Collings and Shah Rahman and supported by England Boxing, the anti racism education campaign is calling upon young people aged 11-17 to commit to anti-racism and eliminate discrimination through awareness and education – with an emphasis on wiping out racial intolerance and abuse online, particularly on social media.
The team will visit schools in and around London with a mobile boxing area, encouraging young people to pull on a pair of gloves and learn more about the multicultural nature of the sport – along with some of its stars, including former GB boxer and Olympian Lawrence Okolie, who was present at the launch.
The open air community event at Langdon Park was also the launchpad for a school educational programme, which featured a presentation, a short film and a guest question and answer session.
England and Limehouse Boxing Academy coach Mark Collings said, “KO Racism is a celebration of the richness of our sport and the fact that its history is closely linked to the many waves of immigrants who have populated the UK from the start of the 20th century. Immigrants have formed the lifeblood of boxing all the way from the great British Jewish fighters of the early 1900s – Jack Berg and Ted Lewis – to the present day, with our fantastically diverse GB Boxing squad and recent world champions like Amir Khan and Anthony Joshua.
“We plan to go into schools with some big names from the sport, to explain how diverse boxing is and how boxing gyms are at their best when they are a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, all working together.”
Ron Tulley, England Boxing Development Manager, added: “England Boxing is proud of its long tradition of racial integration, particularly in London where there is a strong history of people from all backgrounds coming to the city and being welcomed into the boxing fraternity. At a time of heightened tension and against a backdrop of race-related crime, England Boxing continues to welcome members of all backgrounds and abilities to our clubs. We will not tolerate any form of racism within our sport.”
England and Limehouse Boxing Academy coach Shah Rahman concluded, “This is a campaign Mark and I have been developing to highlight the multicultural nature of our sport and how positive social integration that takes place in boxing clubs and is promoted by positive role models helps develop people from all walks of life. We will be delivering workshops in schools, colleges, boxing clubs and other organisations to educate young people using boxing as a vehicle for engagement.”