Search

Peacock boxing gym in Canning Town mentors teenagers away from gang life

16:00 18 November 2012

Young student mentors (L-R) Danny Steadman, Emily Energie, Jodie Robson, and Patrick Jones from Peacock Gym Academy with Assistant manager Laura Bowers (middle)

Young student mentors (L-R) Danny Steadman, Emily Energie, Jodie Robson, and Patrick Jones from Peacock Gym Academy with Assistant manager Laura Bowers (middle)

Archant

You may expect a famous boxing gym tucked away under a gritty flyover to be filled with mean spirited fighters punching the lives out of each other.

But tucked away in a quiet side road, off the busy Silvertown Way, next to the old London docks, the family run Peacock Gym is nurturing the potential of youngsters escaping some of the country’s most deprived and crime ridden nearby estates.

The gym in Caxton Street North, Canning Town, may be more famous for rearing professionals such as former boxers Frank Bruno, George and Billy Walker.

But as the gym’s mentoring scheme, part of a broader educational programme for young people aged 14-19, is up for a number of awards the Recorder paid a visit to discover the secret behind their success.

The gym’s academy, set up four years ago, offers a range of subjects including some that seem a far cry from boxing, from hair and beauty to cycle mechanics, along with a variety of sports including boxing.

Energy

Many of its 150 students combine secondary school with more vocational courses at the gym, while others leave mainstream school to study GCSE maths and English at the gym’s academy.

Academy manager Glyn Barlow said: “It’s not for everyone. But what we are good at is capturing young people on the periphery of gang activity.

“Sometimes it works getting them healthy, eating properly, channelling their energy and changing peer group through the academy rather than just the gym.”

Among those who found a new direction in their lives after coming through the gym’s door’s are four young people, who have now become mentors trying to get others on the right path.

Three on them have secured paid apprenticeships after attending the gym’s academy.

They continue their own studies while being paid £2.95 to £3.25 an hour for mentoring younger students. Another became a volunteer mentor after coming in off the street.

Shortlisted

The scheme has been shortlisted for the Umbro Sport Project of the Year Award and the Guardian newspaper’s small charity awards, along with the Action Against Antisocial Behaviour Award run by the Police Federation.

Case Study:

Danny Steadman, 17, of Custom House, used to get into fights and thinks he managed to turn his life around just before ending up in prison.

The former pupil at Plaistow’s Cumbeland School is now using his experience to steer others away from trouble and into education and has been shortlisted for a Mentor of the Year award run by the Pupil Referral Unit.

Alongside mentoring Danny is retaking his GCSEs in maths and English at the gym, along with gaining qualifications in fitness training. He also does boxing and martial arts, and although he hopes to become a professional fighter in one of these sports, he sees a career as a sport or fitness instructor as a good alternative.

Danny said: “I used to get into fights around my neighbourhood and in school and would probably have ended up in prison for carrying a tool such as a knuckle duster or some sort of gas to defend myself. I think I got away from that life just in time.

“I’m not a natural fighter but because I felt I needed protection I started hanging around with the wrong crowd, people who smoke cannabis and drink. My mum told me I had to change my life around and that these people wouldn’t be there for me in 10 years time.

“But my teachers didn’t understand why I was getting into fights and I stopped going to school. Then in Year 10 my deputy headteacher gave me the option of going to the gym over the summer. That was it. I started to get bigger from the fitness training and suddenly got respect from people, as I could put my foot down, and I became a lot more confident.

“I also got a lot of love and respect from the people here at the gym. They would shake my hand and make me feel important.

“I suddenly became someone, it is like being part of a family. Before I didn’t like the life I had and now I leave here every evening smiling.

“I try to use my experience when mentoring the younger children. I had friends who were as good as gold who ended up getting stabbed and I really don’t want to see others end up the same way.”

0 comments

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 17:47
Chocolatier Jen Lindsay-Clark makes final adjustments to a life-size chocolate sculpture of actor Benedict Cumberbatch,

Benedict Cumberbatch has been recreated into a life-size chocolate sculpture and he’s going on display at Stratford Westfield City this week.

United Kingdom
Yesterday, 16:35
Cllr Ayesha Chowdhury, senior project manager Julian Rodriguez, group development director John Hughes,  Sir Robin Wales, Cllr Ken Clark and managing director Stuart Brodie.  Picture: Richard Townshend

The Mayor of Newham joined two of the borough’s councillors to see the work being done on a Beckton property development.

Newham
Yesterday, 12:04
Peter Smith, the divisional secretary for Newham Teachers' Association, who has called for the abolition of Ofsted

Government policy has caused soaring stress levels among teachers, according to the divisional secretary of Newham Teachers’ Association.

BBC
Yesterday, 10:14
Anthony Palmer

A “persistent” attempted robber who followed his victim from West Ham station in a bid to steal a necklace has been jailed for 10 months.

Most read news

Competitions

Vroom! You could be emmersed in the action at the MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship.

The MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship fires into Brands Hatch on 17/18/19 April for one of the most anticipated seasons in recent years as 39 riders are set for two fierce contests on the 1.2 mile Indy circuit.

Read more
Munch on a tasy three course dinner at The Refinery!

“Where to go for a drink near Great Portland Street?” was previously met with blank expressions and shrugs for those local to the area, not anymore, thanks to the opening of The Refinery at Regent’s Place, the eighth bar and restaurant from hugely-successful group Drake & Morgan.

Read more

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Newham Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder