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Boxing’s community champions honoured

RECOGNISED: Cook has done great work at the Pedro Youth Club in Hackney

FORMER EUROPEAN and British super-middleweight boxing champion, James Cook MBE, is being awarded for his outstanding community work, which includes helping young people to say no to a life of crime.

Cook, is one of many community icons who are being celebrated at the upcoming Living Legends Legacy Gala, for their outstanding community outreach programmes, helping to shift their mindsets and changing their core belief systems.

Supported by boxing manager and promoter Frank Warren, the awards is being organised by the Legacy Foundation, which is led by a group of leading influencers within the BAME professional sectors, who collaborate to create events and celebrate the often contribution of individuals and organisations committed to leaving a legacy in the UK.


LEGEND: Boxing promoter Warren

Humbled about his pending accolade for his work at the Pedro Youth Club in Hackney, east London, Cook told the Voice of Sport: “I feel deeply honoured to receive this award. I will continue to work with my community to cut down crime.

“Young people need role models, which is why I decided to hang up my gloves professionally and focus on reaching out to troubled youth on the streets and talking to those potentially at risk of becoming involved in gangs, gun, and knife crimes.”

The event will highlight professionals away from boxing, including award-winning actor Rudolph Walker and Archbishop Costakis C Evangelou.
Host and one of the founding members of the Legacy Foundation, Lisa-Marie Carr, told the Voice of Sport: “The Living Legends Legacy Boxing Gala seeks to honour those who have contributed to the sport of boxing past, present and future.


VIEWS: Archbishop Costakis C Evangelou

“The rapid increase in the senseless deaths of young people to gun and knife crimes have led many to ask the question, 'What can we do?'

“The gala is a response from a group of individuals, some of whose destinies were diverted in one way or another through boxing, and who felt that other young lives could be positively changed in a similar way.”

Explaining the significance of boxing for young people, Carr said: “Boxing is a game changer. Countless successful, professional boxers have shared their life stories revealing how boxing transformed their lives after being exposed to a local boxing club or to the boxing community.

“Boxing isn’t just about fighting and throwing your arms around. It’s a highly technical, difficult sport to master, which gives people a sense of value – something marginalised youth do not taste very often.

“The sport is about teaching discipline, working through difficulties and learning self control. Boxing can take young people from the streets and give them a sense of self worth and achievement.”

Legend Warren tells the Voice of Sport why he has joined forces with the Legacy Foundation.

“The gala is helping young people to dream and think big beyond their circumstances and environment and any initiative, which helps young people, I love supporting.

“Boxing communicates with young people on their own terms. It unashamedly recognises the aggression and frustration common in teenagers and gives it an authorised physical outlet reaching places other
sports don't reach.

Showing his appreciation for his award, Archbishop Evangelou, said: “I receive this award not only for myself but also for those with whom I have worked alongside for so many years of faithful service, and to all the incredible young people that come to the Edmonton Eagles Amateur Boxing Club.

“They have a desire to make something positive of their lives, despite the ever increasing challenges and difficulties they face.


HUMBLED: Walker

The respected Walker said: “It is a wonderful and a humbling experience to receive an award, especially in a society where there is little or no recognition of the fantastic contribution we have made over the years to make here a better place for all.

“The younger generation need many more positive images, which is why I am a massive supporter of the Legacy Foundation.

“It is fulfilling a gap in this society where we have to step up and acknowledge and honour individuals who are making an impact.”

Encouraging others to support the event and sponsor a young person to attend, Mervin Cato from the Legacy Foundation concludes: “The night will be a red carpet, black tie affair created to make all attendees feel ‘wired, fired, and inspired’ not only to make a change but be that change they want to be and create a legacy.

“The American activist and philanthropist and arguably the greatest professional boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali, once tweeted: “I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit.

“’Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion,” and this is the exact message I tell the youth.

“Take your fight to the gym, rise early and beat your adversities and challenges. Say no to crime and walk away from gangs. Be like the world’s greatest and become a champion.”

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