Is teaching children boxing the answer to stopping crime in Ipswich?
Giving a child boxing gloves and encouraging them to punch someone might not seem the most logical way of keeping them on the straight and narrow. But an Ipswich sports coach is now fundraising to provide free boxing classes for children aged as young as six - because he believes it is the most surefire way of stopping them falling into a life of crime.
Boxer Mike 'Midas' James already holds weekly “Little Champs” classes at Goals Ipswich, which parents pay for, as well as sessions at Hillside and Broke Hall primary schools.
Rather than making children more likely to lash out, he says boxing teaches youngsters self-control and discipline they seldom learn anywhere else.
His classes at Midas Boxing and Fitness have been so successful, they have transformed some youngsters struggling at school into high educational achievers.
So Mr James wants to organise free sessions across Ipswich in the hope it will deter youngsters from falling into a life of crime.
“As a community Ipswich has lost at lot of funding which has affected young people,” a JustGiving page set up to raise funds for the cause says.
“We also have a growing number of gangs and knife crime in the area. A lot of good kids getting dragged into this simply for the reason that nothing is in place to offer an alternative to this.”
The boxing classes will require funding and support from the community - but Mr James believes the benefits it will have in cutting crime and improving children's life chances will be huge.
“What I find is that the way the education system is, certain kids excel and certain kids don't,” said Mr James, himself a 12-time boxing champion.
“Kids who have problems because they don't do well academically tend to get left behind.
“However all the things you learn in boxing, you can apply to life.
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“Once they've had six to eight weeks training with me, their attendance improves and their schoolwork improves, because they're learning to focus and not give up through something they enjoy.
“It is helping them to focus and concentrate for longer. They're also getting praise, rather than feeling stupid.
“It's about perseverance and learning to stick at something.”
Mr James said physical exercise was also one of the major benefits of boxing, adding: “A lot of kids aren't getting much physical exercise, especially in the digital age.
“They don't do as much exercise as they should do.”
He stressed that the main rule of the boxing sessions is no punches to the face, with blows instead landed on boxing pads or the upper body.
However he said: “People don't understand what boxing is about. They always think it is about violence.
“It's not about putting the gloves on and hurting people.
“Anyone who learns to box is less likely to get in a fight, because you learn how to control yourself.
“When you're fighting in the gym regularly, you don't want to fight in the street. Boxing is about holding your temperament and not getting angry.”
Mr James particularly wants to hold free sessions in the Whitehouse and Chantry areas of Ipswich.
However he is looking for places that could provide a free venue.
People can also donate to his fundraising for the sessions here.