Adding Punch to Boxing Club’s Youth Programme

An elite boxing club has been awarded a grant of £4,000 by Bristol’s Society of Merchant Venturers to support its one-to-one mentoring and coached boxing sessions for young people.

The Empire Fighting Chance charity has won national recognition for its boxing and mentoring programmes, which re-engage pupils at risk of exclusion and improve their academic achievement, behaviour and social development.

The charity works with over 200 seven to 19-year-olds every week, through activities that improve their academic achievement, behaviour and social development.

Anthony Brown, Master of the Society of Merchant Venturers said: “We are extremely impressed with this remarkable charity. Their results are outstanding, for example 89 per cent of young people at risk of exclusion, who take part in their programme, remain in education after intervention.

“It is significant that 78 per cent of targeted young people, who were committing antisocial or criminal behaviour are no longer causing either. An overwhelming 98 per cent said they felt fitter and better about themselves.”

There is much to inspire young people in the Empire Amateur Boxing Club’s 40-years history in St Pauls. The club is one of the country’s most successful sporting clubs, which has produced champions both as amateurs and professionals. It has produced World, European, Commonwealth and British Champions.

Martin Bisp, co-founder of the community programme said: “We are the only club in the South West to have produced world champions in Adrian Stone and Glenn Catley.

“The seeds of our community programme were sown in 2006, when myself and my fellow founder Jamie Sanigar spotted two teenagers involved in dealing drugs in a local park.

“We wandered over and asked them to come inside the gym and try something different. They joined the training session and asked to come back.
“We decided to privately fund an after schools boxing session for young people in the community to reduce anti-social behaviour. Alongside the boxing lessons we started to offer mentoring and personal development sessions.

“Soon the weekly sessions turned into daily ones to meet demand and within six weeks 49 young people were coming to the gym to train on a daily basis.

“Our mission is to produce champions in life who can fulfil their broader potential by staying clear of crime and violence, raise aspiration, make better and informed life choices, feel self confident and progress in education and employment.”
As its reputation grew, schools began asking Empire Fighting Chance to work with pupils who were on the verge of exclusion and passive learners.

The charity’s success with these groups led to them working with public referral units and Avon and Somerset Police. This has now developed into the largest non-contact boxing schools engagement programme in the UK.

Empire Fighting Chance has also been approach by the NHS, which has led to a partnership to tackle mental health and obesity issues.

Martin Bisp said: “We are proud of our mentors and grateful to our many supporters. Generous donors like the Merchant Venturers make our work possible.”


Issued by Brandon Hill Communications on behalf of the Society of Merchant Venturers.