Coach profile: Sean Ross (East Hull Boxing Academy)
January 7, 2022 | by Matt Halfpenny
For Sean Ross, the national recognition of being named UK Coaching’s Community Coach (Children and Young People) of the Year for 2021 is a reward for 15 years of selfless hard work.
The former boxer set up the East Hull Boxing Academy in 2007 after seeing continued negative press and gang culture on the local Longhill Estate.
Since then, thousands of youngsters of all ages and from all backgrounds have come through his doors to learn the art of boxing, enjoy sport, gain fitness and confidence and grow as people.
It is a story that mirrors that of many coaches up and down the country who volunteer their time week in, week out, and Ross is proud to be representing them, as well as his local community, with his award win.
“I was delighted to win the award and it shows that, no matter what your background, where you are from, or who you are, you can do well,” said Sean.
“I started up the club when young people were up to no good, gathering in large gangs of around 30 kids at the local shops. I was getting frustrated that the local community had nothing like a boxing club for children and young people to join.
“I remember being in a similar situation as a kid, and I thought to myself ‘what can I do to help the estate be in a better position’. Boxing helped me as a kid, it gave me something to do and kept out of trouble.
“I thought ‘let’s give it a go’, so that’s how it all started. I went to the large groups of kids on the streets and handed them all leaflets about a new boxing club and they were some great responses.”
Sean is passionate about helping out to bring better opportunities to the area where he lives having suffered in a similar way in the past.
His own boxing aspirations her hit by the closure of local clubs of which he was previously a member.
He added: ““I know from personal experience how much boxing helps young kids especially the ones from larger families that are maybe living in a socially deprived condition.
“I came from a family of six children and know how much it affects you mentally when your parents are trying to share the attention out between all the kids.
“For me, boxing was my go to place not just because I could box, but I could do it without getting into trouble and I was getting the attention that I was needing at the same time because people was were giving me praise for something positive for a change.
“But three years after I started boxing for St Mary’s, the club suddenly had to close and that left me devastated and bitter. The nearest boxing club after that was Greatfield Boxing Club and soon after they had to close too.
“It left me with no other local options other than St Paul’s in the city centre and because I was from a such a big family, my mother couldn’t afford the bus fares and the subs to send me there all the time.”
Sean is hopeful that his input has rubbed off on some of those who have trained under his guidance.
He’s certainly had his successes, with female contender Charan Dhesi having won international honours with England and twice been a national champion.
He hopes that, in the long-term, the club can secure a bigger premises to continue its progress.
“From past experience in knowing how much the boxing and fitness helped me, I promised myself I would one day run a boxing club on the estate to give people what I never had,” he said.
“I would like to think we have changed thousands of lives, not just in the boxing, but in fitness and developing people’s mental health.
“Many of our members have gone on to have very successful careers, some joining the armed forces, joining the police, and even becoming dental nurses.
“We have even trained up young coaches who have gone on to start their own boxing clubs and it feels great to see these coaches running their own club and getting great success with their own boxers.
“We have struggled away over the years training from a small church hall and it’s so frustrating because the current facility is far too small to progress any further, due to it not being big enough”.
“There is so much more help we could give to the community if we just had bigger premises! Winning awards like these are hopefully going to help the club progress further by giving us that punching power to put on the table.
“It gives the local authority’s proof that this club is doing the correct things in the City of Hull to create positive outcomes in people’s lives and developing their wellbeing.”
Sean is pictured, top, receiving his UK Coaching Award last month from sportscotland’s Sandy Hodge.