'I can see the impact': Student helps youngsters with free boxing classes
- Credit: Rayan Bamhayan
A young woman is using her love of boxing to offer free sessions to youngsters in a bid to reduce knife crime and childhood poverty.
Shannia Gordon, who was born and raised in Chadwell Heath, runs the classes for 13- to 20-year-olds across south and east London.
Her inspiration came when a young fighter at a club she was coaching at said he would give up the sport after a defeat.
"I said to him: 'Have one boxing session with me and if you still want to quit boxing, fair enough. I won't charge you.' And from there, it just took off.
"I started doing boxing sessions in Thamesmead and at one point I had 30 kids in front of me.
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"When I looked at the amount of kids in front of me, I thought: 'I need to make this something official.'"
She set up Power Mobile Gym and puts on classes every day, including at Langdon Park in Poplar.
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Around 10 to 20 youngsters attend each one and Shannia said the pandemic highlighted the need for the sessions.
"A lot of these young people have been bored, they're associating themselves with the wrong people, it's just had a spiral effect throughout Covid.
"It was already bad before Covid, but Covid has made this situation ten times worse."
She has two other people work with her and they offer coaching from area to area - hence "mobile" in the name.
"One of the big problems is if you set up a youth club in one place, you can't reach people from different areas but those that could travel might feel uncomfortable travelling because of gang warfare and other things attached to that.
"We bring the boxing to them so they don't have to come out of their comfort zone, it eliminates all reasons for them not to participate."
Shannia first started attending Redbridge Amateur Boxing Club in Clayhall at around 10 years old, before heading into coaching.
"My passion for coaching took off.
"I don't feel like I'm ever working when I go into these sessions."
Her mantra is "each one, teach one", something she prides herself in.
Group work and team building is at the core of the offer, while she has also branched out into CV building workshops for those looking to get jobs.
The 20-year-old said she can see the impact the sessions are making on those taking part.
"One of my boys who has been boxing with me since the start of Covid said: 'I don't know what I would have done without Power Mobile Gym.'
"He's stopped carrying knives, stopped selling stuff and now is on the straight and narrow and wants to go into law.
"I can see the impact it's made. I see socially how they've changed and how they carry themselves. I see that before they even tell me."
She believes "prevention is better than cure" when it comes to helping young people stay on the right path.
"We do have setbacks with the young people but we make them understand no-one is perfect, you're going to have setbacks but it's about how you deal with that.
"A lot of young people - it's not that they want to be big and bad, they just don't know how to control their emotions.
"We do a lot of work around emotions and talk about different ways we can deal with emotions."
One of the famous faces to have visited is former boxer Spencer Fearon, now a pundit and head of MTK Global's Foundation.
Shannia, who has recently moved to south-east London, said she charges £3 per class to those in full-time work or with the means to pay, but insists that the sessions are not meant to be a "financial burden".
As well as the boxing sessions, she has also been finishing her sociology studies at the University of East London's School of Education and Communities.
She now hopes to raise money to be able to take 10 youngsters to Jamaica for a training camp with heavyweight legend Lennox Lewis.
To donate, visit Power Mobile Gym's GoFundMe page.