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There are reasons for our collective impassiveness, of course. We may feel that certain developments happen so far away that they’re inconsequential to our everyday lives and so pay them little mind. Other times we find it easier to ignore things we feel we have no control over. These are natural, human ways of dealing with problems and, as such, completely understandable.
Some things however are so close to home that we simply can’t afford to turn a blind eye. The entire city of Liverpool was left in shock just last week after the death of 12-year old Ava White in the city centre.
The cancer of knife crime is happening on our doorsteps and city streets, eating away at the very fabric of the place we call home. It’s affecting our youngsters and dramatically impacting on their childhood. We simply have to pay attention and act.
Thankfully there are some people already working to stem the tide.
Liverpool boxing legend Tony ‘Bomber’ Bellew is a prime example. His initiative ‘Weapons Down, Gloves Up’, offers kids a different option to gang culture and a life misspent. The organisation offers four-week boxing camps followed by industry specific training, aimed at helping these young adults realise their potential.
Other influential people in the city have also lent their voices to help this valuable cause, including local treasures Speedo Mick and ‘Meatball’ Molly McCann.
Weapons Down, Gloves Up gives participants a platform to learn life skills through boxing. As anyone with an understanding of the sweet science will appreciate, the sport is much more than simply punching people in the face. The lessons to be learnt from the squared circle are legion.
We stand in solidarity with this
At such a 💔 time our thoughts go out to Ava’s family
We work in schools & have e-modules based on gangs, drugs, knife crime, jail and image orientation
We will work with @MerseysideVrp 2 see what more we can do to widen our services 2 reach u16s pic.twitter.com/L7Xu1kZU6O
— Weapons Down Gloves Up ⚪️ (@WDGU_SEE) November 27, 2021
Attitude. Respect. Coping skills. Discipline. These are just some of the many positive traits a person will pick up when immersed in boxing culture. Not to mention the camaraderie that comes from being surrounded by like-minded people. People who see you for what you could be rather than what you may have been prematurely deemed by society.
Another intrinsic Part of the initiative is head trainer Billy Moore. Billy himself is no stranger to adversity. As a former drug addict and criminal, Billy is now a shining example to all kids on what can be achieved when you commit to change. A former resident of the notorious ‘Bangkok Hilton’ prison, his is a cautionary tale for how things can go without help from the right people. Billy is striving to be that example for the next generation and, together with Tony, the project is working.
Weapons Down, Gloves Up is delivering exactly what they promised. They’ve already secured eighty-five jobs on the construction of the new Everton stadium for graduates of their programmes. And it seems that they’re just getting started.
— Billy Moore (@billymooreAPBD) October 4, 2021
The continued success of the programme will ultimately come with more involvement from local businesses. We need entrepreneurs and business leaders to be willing to take a chance and capitalise on this seemingly limitless, previously untapped, river of potential that our city’s youth has to offer.
Us Scousers are famously steely and street-smart. We’re also loyal, sharp and hardworking. All fine qualities. It can be easy to forget though, that if not directed properly, these hallmarks can easily become a force for self-destruction. We cannot allow our children to become misguided and let their natural talents go to waste. We must nurture them and show them that even if they’re on the wrong path now, it’s not a path they need to remain on.
Organisations like Weapons Down, Gloves Up are the kind of catalyst needed to propel change. They are not there to control their participants but to guide and influence.
As our city has proved many times in its history, we rarely tend to accept no for an answer.
If Tony and Billy can continue to reinforce this then more of our kids might just have a chance of a brighter future, one where their self worth is not determined by the size of the blade they carry – but by contribution they make to making our city a safer place to be.
By Richie Elder
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