By Andrew Wake
The hardest sport is full of the kindest people. It’s almost a paradox but those who are involved in the pain game are often the softest and caring most caring individuals around once they step out of the ring.
Boxing has a long tradition of helping those in need and in most inner city districts you do not have to travel far to see the good things the sport has done for the local community.
Now a new project has started in North-East London which hopes to help people who have suffered with mental illnesses.
Sweet Science 4 Life is the brainchild of former English super-bantamweight champion Marc Callaghan and boxing journalist Danny Coyne. The concept is to help those with mental issues regain their confidence through boxing training and boxercise.
“What we’ve decided to do is a cardiovascular circuit around the concept of boxing because people doing punching gets out the anger and frustration,” Coyne explained.
“There’s a lot of people affected by mental health, a lot of them ex-soldiers and boxing releases endorphins, it makes people feel good and allows them to release controlled aggression.”
Both Callaghan and Coyne have themselves suffered from problems in their personal lives so it is clearly a project that is close to their hearts.
“We’ve both had mental health issues, Marc has had depression and I was diagnosed with the same disorder as Frank Bruno, bi-polar,” Coyne explained.
“I work part-time for the NHS as a recruitment consultant and Marc is a coach for Fight for Peace ABC in North Woolwich, which is also a registered charity, and one day we just thought ‘why don’t we set something up?’”
And support from the boxing community has come in thick and fast for the project since. Jane Couch MBE recently gave Sweet Science 4 Life a plug on her Youtube channel, while a number of fighters have given their backing on Facebook.
But quite possibly the man who will be able to help the project most in terms of organising funding is former British and European super-middleweight champion James Cook MBE.
“I’ve known James a long time and he’s agreed to be our chairman,” Coyne revealed.
“He’s the honorary treasurer for his own boxing and youth club, which is also a registered charity and we’re happy to have him involved because he’s got experience in dealing with vulnerable people and he knows how to get us support.”
A venue is in place for training and the next step is for funding arrangements to be sorted before the project, which will be a non-profit making social enterprise, can get fully off the ground.
“We’ve had a meeting the North East London Mental Health Foundation Trust, which is actually the same hospital where Frank Bruno was when he got sectioned, and they’ve got their own gymnasium,” Coyne stated.
“As part of their spa quality trademark every new patient has the right to have physical exercise and they don’t have anything in place at present so they’ve agreed to put in bags and ropes and things as well as part-fund it until March.
“We’re then looking to get to get a grant from the national charity Mind and we can apply for anything from £10,000 right up to £86,000.
“We’ve also got backing from our local MP Margaret Hodge and hopefully she’s going to give us a letter of backing for the grant application.”
Trainer Johnny Eames, always one to get behind a good cause, has also offered Sweet Science 4 Life the opportunity to use the facilities at the TRAD TKO gym in Canning Town when he isn’t training his pros.
And the recently retired Ian Napa has expressed an interest in helping out alongside his work with autistic children in Hackney.
Anybody interested in learning more about the charitable venture can visit its Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/sweetscience4life/ or contact Danny at firstname.lastname@example.org.