Aspiring young boxers from Heart of Hayling inspired by visit from Portsmouth defender Christian Burgess
YOUNG boxers are feeling inspired after a Portsmouth star dropped in on a training session to hand out awards and get involved.
More than 100 children aged five to 17 turned up to Heart of Hayling Boxing Academy for their first session of the year at Hayling Island Community Centre, which was visited by football player and special guest Christian Burgess.
The Portsmouth left back stayed for the whole three-hour session and helped present some awards to the up-and-coming boxing stars, including little Portsmouth FC rubber ducks.
Richard Coates, whose son Mark co-founded the community-led group, said: ‘He’s absolutely brilliant as an ambassador for the club, he makes a superb role model.
‘The whole object is to show [the children] you’re not the only ones struggling, and look what you can achieve if you stick at it. They now will go on to see him at matches and think “he took the trouble to come and see us”.
‘[It is] putting the message to the youngsters that you can be who you want to be.’
The club was launched in January 2019 by more than 25 volunteer coaches in a bid to crack down on crime and anti-social behaviour on Hayling Island.
Aspiring boxers from any background can get involved from age five to 17 to work through the six levels of boxing awards.
Coaches encourage inspirational people to come along to the sessions and spend time with the children, including police officers trained as boxing coaches who help the youngsters see the police in a different light.
On the visit from Christian Burgess, club mentor and co-founder Knox White said: ‘I just thought it was a lovely injection of enthusiasm. Christian is a very warming guy and very nice to be around, the kids warmed to him.
‘He reiterated everything that we’re about, which is the kids and young people and giving them something to do and working hard.’
Three sessions are held on Wednesday evenings: 4.30pm to 5.30pm is for ages 14 to 17, 5.30pm to 6.30pm is for five to 13 year olds, and 6.30pm to 7.30pm is for ladies only.
The most recent session also saw the launch of a quiet class to make coaching more accessible for children who struggle with noise.