Heart of Portsmouth Boxing club praised for turning lives round

Left to right, Gareth Tennant and Q Shillingford.
Left to right, Gareth Tennant and Q Shillingford.
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A BOXING club has been highlighted for its role in using coaching to improve social well being and reduce crime.

The Heart of Portsmouth Boxing Academy in Southsea has played a pivotal role in turning round the lives of young people across the city.

Gareth Tennant (right) with a fellow member of the Heart of Portsmouth Boxing Academy.

Gareth Tennant (right) with a fellow member of the Heart of Portsmouth Boxing Academy.

In 2006, club manager, Q Shillingford MBE, established the GB National Boxing Awards Programme and Boxing Tutor course which enables young people to deliver boxing fitness sessions alongside education and personal development.

A beneficiary of the initiative was Gareth Tennant who, before being taken under Q’s tutelage,  was homeless and consistently in trouble with the police.

Gareth added: ‘I was suffering from addiction and became involved in crime which just took over me. I just didn’t know where I was going in my previous life.’

Q said: ‘Gareth had problems with both drugs and alcohol and during his time on the streets had resorted to carrying a weapon in order to protect himself from a dangerous environment. He was at his lowest point and thought that he would end up either dead or in prison and had no hope for the future.’

Gareth Tennant coaching local youngsters.

Gareth Tennant coaching local youngsters.

After being welcomed into the club, and through Q’s coaching, Gareth was able to turn his life around. Gareth is now married with children and has a stable job. He regularly attends sessions at the club and has gained his level one coaching qualification and is now providing support and guidance to children and young people like himself.

‘If anyone had asked me three or four years ago I’d be a qualified boxing coach, I’d be married, I’d be in a job, I would have turned around and said yeah alright, okay - I wouldn’t have believed a word you’re saying,’ said Gareth.

Q added: ‘Seeing someone come off the street and turn their life around is unbelievable. Just priceless.’

Gareth’s story has been highlighted as part of National Coaching Week to show the positive impact coaching can have on improving social well being and reducing crime in local communities.

In 2012, Q was recognised for his extraordinary efforts when he was named Sports Coach UK Community Coach of the Year at the Gillette UK Coaching Awards.