Monkstown Boxing Club’s coach Paul Johnston has landed a new title – a National Lottery Legend - after a short film paying tribute to his work gained thousands of views online.
The club’s BoxClever project provides sport-related work placements and community-based coaching sessions for young people living in Monkstown, Rathcoole and surrounding areas of north Belfast.
With the help of a National Lottery grant of £377,690, Paul set up the programme which involves breakfast and after-school homework clubs to improve the lifestyles of its members.
And since his story was featured on the National Lottery’s Good Cause Facebook page it has been viewed more than 27,000 times.
Paul said: “Up until a few years ago, Monkstown Boxing Club was simply a boxing club. The game changer was receiving National Lottery funding from the Big Lottery Fund.
“Our Lottery funding has allowed me and other staff to support the needs of young people in our community. BoxClever is a unique concept which works really well in changing the mindset of young people and helps them to understand the importance of education.
“Those who have taken part have really embraced the programme and there has been a massive transformation in terms of educational achievement and fulfilling their potential. They are leaving with better grades, staying on at school or contemplating going to university.
“Sport owes me very little, but I owe sport so much and my personal experience has been the cornerstone of the programme’s evolution. I would love the success of this club to be replicated in boxing clubs across the UK.”