sundaylife

| 8.7°C Belfast


Carl Frampton

Here's a school of thought... let's put boxing on the curriculum

Carl Frampton


Close

Carl Frampton before heading off to the Commonwealth Youth Games with his coach Billy McKee, at Midland White - City ABC. 19/11/04

Carl Frampton before heading off to the Commonwealth Youth Games with his coach Billy McKee, at Midland White - City ABC. 19/11/04

Carl Frampton before heading off to the Commonwealth Youth Games with his coach Billy McKee, at Midland White - City ABC. 19/11/04

Every young guy in a boxing club knows the benefits of being in that environment and when you consider how other sports are promoted in schools, I feel the time has come for my sport to be given the same profile.

In England they are encouraging the development of boxing in schools to help deal with the awful rise in knife crime, the gang culture and the growing rise in drug-related anti-social behaviour.

In Northern Ireland we usually end up with the same problems that the rest of the UK and world have had to deal with so it makes sense to be ahead of the curve when it comes to dealing with them.

Boxing has been, literally, saving lives for years - giving kids a direction and a purpose and I believe if we can have boxing in schools it will help society a lot.

I was recently in east Belfast with my mate Paddy Barnes talking to kids who, because of various issues are not in mainstream school, they have their own place of education at Clarawood School. We just chatted with them and told them what boxing had done for us and the feedback we got was terrific - the guys felt inspired.

Kids from working class backgrounds can easily drift into serious trouble or they can feel disillusioned with life because of what's going on in their homes or at school and boxing offers them a release from that and a goal to focus on that they wouldn't normally have. There's something special about the sport that transforms kids.

If coaches and former boxers can be allowed to go into schools and talk about the sport and then start to work even once or twice a week, I think there are kids in schools that would love it.

It would certainly spread out the opportunity for more kids to join boxing clubs and instead of being in gangs and getting into trouble, they can find a different gang - the boxing club.

I know my mate Tommy Coyle often talks about how the club environment replaces the gang culture because of the friendships that are developed and that is something that I experienced in a big way. I wasn't a bad kid at all but growing up in Tigers Bay it would have been easy to go down the wrong path but the Midland amateur boxing club made sure that didn't happen.

My coaches Billy McKee (above) and Cooper McClure had a massive impact on me and there were older guys in the club who boxed who were my role models. I had many great influences, like John English who we called 'Big Flash'. He wasn't that great a boxer but went on to be very successful academically. He always referred to me as the Diddy Man after Ken Dodd and the Diddy Men - he still calls me that when he sees me about the area.

There were others like Keith Dallas, big Chiz who is still floating about the club, Willie Millar and Mitchell Wells I hope I haven't left anyone out because although these names will mean nothing to most reading this column, they were crucial to me living my boxing dream - and just simply being a good guy in society.

This is the point about boxing and why it should be developed in schools because the togetherness it brings and the sense of belonging for kids is amazing.

My coach Billy McKee may not have had the qualifications but he was - and is - a social worker, counsellor and psychologist all rolled into one.

What he has done for so many kids means so much more than boxing medals - and I know the same goes for so many boxing coaches across the land.

I know how selfless they have to be so they can give every kid their best and I have to be honest and say that unless I could give the same sacrifice I wouldn't start coaching.

I'd love to coach amateurs but having sacrificed so much family time as a professional I'm not sure it would be fair on Christine and the kids to start coaching.

These people do so much for working class kids who they're able to relate to like few others can so it's time they had the chance to offer the same kind of help in schools.

Harry was a true hero

Legend and hero are words that can be thrown about very easily these days but when it comes to the late Harry Gregg, he was the essence of both.

Harry epitomised what it means to be a hero when you consider how he went into a burning plane to rescue his team-mates who suffered in the Munich air disaster and it was an honour for me to finally meet him. I got a photograph with Harry which he signed and it sits proudly in my bar at home.

My dad had told me the stories about Harry so from an early age I was aware of who he was and what he had done. He was a great goalkeeper and a great man who used his profile to help others with his charity foundation.

Harry is one of those sporting heroes whose achievements and heroism should be passed down through generations. Being voted the best goalkeeper at the 1958 World Cup was an incredible accolade along with being a Busby Babe, and he showed his true character when risking his own life to save others.

Tyrone Ken seal deal

Tyrone McKenna won a controversial but unanimous decision over Mohamed Mimoune in the York Hall, Bethnal Green on Friday night and now he is set for one of the biggest domestic grudge fights of the year with Ohara Davies.

Tyrone seemed a bit fortunate to get the verdict in a terrific scrap in their semi-final of the Golden Contract. It was a mix of Tyrone making life easy for himself when using his movement and jab and then doing what suited his opponent when he backed to the ropes and had a slugfest.

Sky television will be delighted with the light-welterweight final because Tyrone and Davies have been trading insults on social media and even up close and personal so I can imagine there will be a lot of hype leading up to it in June.

It's a huge opportunity for both with a chance for six-figure pay-days in a deal with Top Rank and Tyrone can do it if he uses his natural advantages.

His mate Tyrone McCullagh will be gutted after losing his featherweight semi-final to Ryan Walsh but he can learn a lot from those 10 rounds and come again. Walsh is a good fighter and his final with Jazza Dickens should be a cracker.

We got an Eiffel of the major sites on family break in Paris

It was good to be able to spend part of the school half-term break at Euro Disney with my wife Christine and our kids Carla and Rossa, who were in awe at the whole experience.

They lapped up seeing all the different Disney characters and one of the best moments was the hotel lighting up each night just as they did the fireworks display.

But I think our favourite day was probably going to the Eiffel Tower, that was incredible.

Making family memories like that is very special and hopefully ones they will recall for a long time.

Now it's back to school and ticking over in training as I wait for the green light for my fight with world super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring.

Belfast Telegraph