It’s been a Rocky road over the last year, but school pupils are now being put through their paces in the boxing ring by the trainer to two former world champions.
Kevin Sanders has seen many top fighters ply their trade in the harshest of sporting environments, and he had to go through a battle of his own to set up his new boxing academy at Vic’s Gym in Hampton.
Youngsters seeking guidance in life are now being schooled through fitness and fun by Kevin, who trained world champions Nigel Benn and Lloyd Honeyghan and was in Frank Bruno’s corner when he fought Mike Tyson.
The academy opened seven weeks ago and 97 students came into the gym during November to receive guidance and training from Kevin and his fellow coaches.
Kevin said: “I’m absolutely delighted. It’s a dream come true. We are gelling with the students really well.
“When they finish a session they will have done in the region of 150 sit-ups and press-ups. That’s combined with a bit of boxing, a bit of skipping, a bit of pad work.
“It’s good fun, and we also talk to them. They have some interesting stories.”
The boxing academy was first announced in September 2015 as a place for disadvantaged youngsters to be steered away from trouble.
There was a hiccup earlier this year when Kevin said Peterborough City Council, which had spent £20,000 towards the project, had been unable to find pupils to join the academy.
However, Kevin said the help of Matt Oliver and Adrian Chapman at the council has seen his dream become a reality. “It’s going really, really well. Fingers crossed next year will be a fantastic year for us,” said Kevin, who grew up as an orphan.
“I just want to leave a bit of a legacy and give something back to Peterborough.
“The Government has not got the money and projects are closing down. So we are trying to get through to children with fitness and fun.
“Children with learning difficulties, from troubled families, young offenders. Anyone that wants to come can contact me.
“We want to help some kids get to mainstream schools.”
Cllr Irene Walsh, council cabinet member for communities and environment capital, said: “We are really pleased that schools and colleges in Peterborough are taking up the opportunity to have their young people involved in the Kevin Sanders Boxing Academy.
“It is well known that sport can have a positive impact on young people’s well-being, helping them to develop confidence, teamwork and respect for others.”
Kevin is now seeking sponsorship for his academy, and if more schools sign up with him then a second academy will be considered.
To contact Kevin, email firstname.lastname@example.org.