New programme sees Hard Knocks teaching young people skills for life

July 26, 2021 | by Matt Halfpenny


Yorkshire’s Hard Knocks Boxing Gym is using the power of boxing to support the mental health of local young people.

The gym, based in Cudworth, near Barnsley, has started a new programme called the Youth Boxing Fundamentals Course.

It focuses on the strength of mind and performance of young people, not just in the boxing ring but in all elements of their lives.

After working with Barnsley Council and Yorkshire Development it became apparent to the club that mental illness in the area’s young people has risen significantly in the last few years, with suicide rates are above the national average.

That’s when Head Coach Chris Shimwell decided to take action to address the situation with a new programme.

“Knowing what it is like to struggle with mental health in the past and working myself in this area for over 25 years, I have gained a lot of knowledge and experience within the fields of mindfulness and breath work-based practices.

“It’s given me the understanding that we can work on ourselves and that we have the ability to train our minds to be more fit and healthy.”

Chris became a trained Emotional Intelligence Certified Coach with support from Daniel Goleman and has is also trained in sports mindfulness, performance, and enhancement.

He has used that knowledge to set up the 12-week long course, where each session uses boxing to teach mind and mental training by learning, practicing and reflection.

Shimwell added: “We realise that not all youngsters struggle with mental health. However, this course can participants the know-how and skills not only to cope mentally when challenges arise, but it also shows them how to get the best out of themselves using mind strength and performance practices.

“The journey of the course takes them from entering the gym, to entering the ring and how to achieve peak mental performance, alongside the physical and technical requirements of boxing.

“We also teach that all the skills that they are been taught are totally transferable into what they look to achieve in life.”

The club are due to move to a bigger venue as their membership has outgrown the current venue which they use.

They are aiming to make this programme bigger and better in the future by involving more partners, organisations, and health professionals.

If you can help with funding or sponsorship to help renovate the new venue, so they can deliver boxing and mental health training to more members of the community, go to the club’s Facebook age by clicking here.