Boxing Mentoring Programme
This academic year a selected group of Y10 students have been lucky enough to receive boxing based mentoring sessions from Leroy Nicholas, Founder and Director of Sweet Science Boxing and an ex-boxer himself. These weekly sessions have not only significantly improved the student’s physical fitness levels but have also helped them to develop the necessary life skills to be successful young men and women in their future career paths.
Leroy has very high expectations of all of his pupils and his no nonsense approach means you either buy in to his methods and or you’re out the door. Although there is a clear focus on physical training and boxing, Leroy also dedicates a significant amount of time to talking through a variety of different mental and social issues with the students including:
- The development of key life skills including self-discipline, punctuality, organisation and resilience
- Knife crime and street safety
- The role of race/and or racism in modern day society
- People’s perceptions of young black people
- Ark Academy School rules and why they are important
- Anti-social behaviour
- Success and having what it takes to make it
Leroy constantly challenges his student’s viewpoints and there have been some amazing debates on a range of student issues including conduct outside of school and why people may feel intimidated by large groups of teenagers in modern day society. Despite some resistance to begin with the students have become increasingly receptive to opening their minds to an alternative way of thinking and participated with some excellent responses and ideas.
During others sessions they have discussed social mobility and the importance of making the most of opportunities in life whilst never taking anything for granted (linking to tragic death of three students from Harefield School killed in a hit and run which Leroy’s daughter knew). This stimulated some powerful discussions and excellent contributions from all of the pupils on what was a very emotional subject.
Leroy and I have also challenged the students to publicly reflect on their own behaviour. For example two pupils were recently asked to talk about their fixed term exclusions (focussing on what they did wrong/how they would change their behaviour in the future) to the rest of the group. This was a really powerful exercise and both boys were able to do this in a mature and reflective manner whilst the rest of the group listened intently.
In line with this focus on behaviour Leroy has requested to be made aware of any issues involving any of his students on a weekly basis. Once this happens he will take these pupils to one side at the beginning of the sessions and speak to them about their behaviour choices and what they could do better next time. These intense but powerful chats really have made a positive difference to some of our student’s behaviour choices in and outside of school.
Finally there has also been a clear focus on student’s future pathways and in one of his more recent sessions Leroy requested that all pupils needed to prepare a short speech on a potential career they might like to go into in later life. Furthermore they had to undertake research to determine if they could afford a mortgage for a house/flat in London based on the average earnings within this role. Leroy was particularly impressed by Sylvester and his talk on London Metropolitan policing during which he admitted (based on his internet research), he would struggle to pay off a mortgage and live in a London flat whilst working in the Met police. All in all it was a thoroughly eye-opening and fascinating exercise for all of the participants which forced them to really think hard about financial implications for the future!
In summary the boxing mentoring programme has had a real impact on the way the young students think and act. One of its participants Mohamuud confirmed his appreciation for the programme with the following statement: “Coach Leroy has really helped me develop my boxing skills and discipline. When he sent me out of a session once for talking I knew he meant business and since then I know that I have had to be at the top of my game to make a success of myself. I am definitely more focussed and serious about what I want to get out of life and would thoroughly recommend this programme to other young people.” With all of the students on the programme expressing similarly positive views we very much hope to be running this programme again for Ark pupils next year.