Club case study: boxing breaking barriers in Brighton
December 9, 2022 | by Matt Halfpenny
From carded boxing to women-only sessions and wheelchair boxing, Brighton and Hove Boxing Team are bidding to cater for all in their community.
Former professional heavyweight champion, Scott Welch, has been delivering and developing adaptive sessions at the club over the past few years with people attending from all over the south coast to get a taste of it.
The first wheelchair boxing session was set up by Welch for an ex-veteran he met who had lost both his legs and was taking part in wheelchair sparring at an event Scott was visiting.
He was so inspired and impressed by what he had seen that he invited the young man, Chris, to come and train with him.
After a few sessions it was clear that this was something that both wanted to be a part of they continued to develop the sessions, which have since gone from strength to strength with people from all walks of life with various disabilities coming to take part.
“It was great to see such a variety of people attending these sessions, with the class being split 50-50 in terms of males and females, who each had their own reasons for being in a wheelchair and attending,” said Max Segre, Club Support Officer for the Southern Counties, who recently visited the club.
“I was instantly inspired and amazed by what I observed. I spoke with an enthusiastic and energetic young man named Kieran who has cerebral palsy and as a result has difficulty walking.
Kieran takes part and competes in various sports including basketball and football, but boxing is his newest uptake and says it has improved his well-being in ways that the other sports couldn’t.
Kieran is extremely proud of the work he has put in to get there and hopes that many more around the country will be given the opportunity to take part in adaptive boxing sessions.
He said: “I’ve lost a lot of strength in one side of my body and the boxing has really improved my power and strength ,as well as my coordination, endurance and mobility.”
The wheelchair boxing isn’t the only adaptive session that is delivered at the club, with hearing and visually impaired boxing sessions also taking place.
These sessions have been carefully thought out on how best to deliver them often taking advice from the participants, using things with brightly coloured stickers on pads to make the target area clearer, as well as having coaches using strong communication skills to support the participants.
Segre added: “When I first walked into the gym I noticed how much the club had a community feel to it. Kieran had his boxing gloves on in his wheelchair and was smashing into the bag, surrounded by other able-bodied participants.
“As it got later into the evening, Kieran swapped his gloves for pads and started supporting the blind boxing session where he took an elderly blind man on the pads for several rounds. They show all teamwork to support each other and ensure everyone gets a good workout.”
The team developing these sessions are part of WBC Cares and hope that these sessions highlight the importance of offering additional boxing classes for those with various additional needs.
The club also hopes that wheelchair boxing and other variations of boxing will one day be big enough to be able to host events and competitions regularly, specifically for these groups, within the next five years.