Punchline Podcast helping to build Windmill’s community outreach
March 5, 2021 | by Matt Halfpenny
Former world champion Amir Khan has been among the guests on a podcast by Windmill ABC that aims to give the club extra exposure to help it reach out even further in its local community.
The Punchline Podcast was only set up by the Smethwick-based gym last year, just as the Coronavirus Pandemic was starting.
But with a succession of great guests speaking about a wide variety of topics – including mental health, bullying, disability discrimination and strength and conditioning – together with first-rate production, it had already established itself as a firm favourite among the boxing community before it was temporarily paused due to lockdowns.
Windmill Head Coach Mo Abdullah – who has been with the club for 15 years – cannot wait to get the series back up and running again on YouTube once the government restrictions allow.
In the meantime, he is urging people form across boxing to have a watch and listen of the back catalogue, that also features GB Olympic hopeful Ben Whittaker and Firewalker ABC’s Joby Clayton, who coaches world champion Anthony Joshua.
“I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine, Amar Khan, who is a ‘techie’, about how we could better promote the club and he suggested the way to do it would be podcast, so that is when we set it up together,” said Mo.
“We have invested in all the kit with the camera and recording equipment because we feel it opens up another channel, a way of communication for the club, and will hep to raise our profile.
“We felt that as club that has 50 years of history, it ought to be more recognised than it is both locally and nationally and hopefully this is going to help to that in the future.”
Windmill started out life as church-based St Philips ABC, but in 1989 made a short move to the nearby Windmill Community Centre, sparking a change in name.
Mo started with the club as a boxer at the age of 11 and, when one of the coaches passed away and the other was struggling to maintain membership numbers and stable finances, he stepped in to help.
While his father donated funds to cover affiliation and rent before joining the club committee as treasurer – helping to secure a grant from the Birmingham Foundation that allowed a rebuild of the facilities – he and his brother went on coaching courses in preparation for taking leading roles in developing the next generation of Windmill boxers.
Now the club has four coaches who are all Level 2 qualified with 25 registered boxers and weekly sessions that are delivered to around 100 people, with the aim to build those numbers.
Mo added: “Community is what we are all about. We have a mix of ethnicities in our immediate local area, with a big Eastern European immigrant population, as well as black, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities.
“It’s also a high-risk area for health, while many people are on low incomes, and there are high levels of crime and low levels of education. I have seen first-hand that those who leave the boxing club can get into trouble and turn to crime, but those who stay with us go on to better things.
“We know we can make a difference and that is why we have worked with schools and pupil referral units, outreach centres, sports clubs, the NHS Referrals Service and others. We want to give back and help people, especially young people.”
Windmill is also working hard to break down barriers that prevent local women and girls from taking up the sport.
“The number of female boxers we have is really growing, which is great to see, but it is not always easy because there are cultural and religious reasons that can stop people,” said Mo.
“But we have female-only sessions that helps those taking part feel more at ease and we have a coach, Haseebah Abdullah (Mo’s sister), who is involved in the Hometown Heroes Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games campaign who is a great inspiration, so it has been progressing well.”
Pictures are pre Covid-19