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Fighting for the glory of God

EXCITED: Stephen Addison also talks publicly and has big plans for the future of BoxUpCrime

STEPHEN ADDISON is on a mission to divert young people away from crime, help them to achieve their dreams and turn them into leaders.

He’s doing so through BoxUpCrime, the youth project he started in 2013 in Barking and Dagenham using £1,200 from his university and his own money. Now aged, 25, this young Christian – who won a Mayor of London award in 2015 for his work – is currently reaching more than 600 young people by providing boxing training, as well as mentoring, educational, career and business start-up support.

Stephen, who boxes competitively said: “Our motto is ‘rebuilding misguided dreams’. Every young person has dreams, but ‘the road’ misguides it. Society misguides it.

“The communities they grow up in misguide it and they end up turning from wanting to be a footballer to becoming the best drug dealer on the road.

“We work with young people in a way that their parents, teachers and local authorities can’t, and engage them with boxing. We get down to their level and relate to them.”
Although raised in a Christian home by Ghanaian parents, Stephen, the third of five siblings got seduced into criminality. His life changed completely following a dream.

He recalled: “I was involved in gangs. I was selling drugs, doing robbery and fraud from the age of 15.

“I had a dream I went to prison for murder with my mates. God spoke to me in the dream and told me if I carried on living my life the way I was I would go to jail, but if I gave my life to him He would make me a role model to people all over the world.

“From then I started boxing, I changed my lifestyle. I stopped smoking weed. Two years later I told my mates about my dream. They just laughed it off.”

He continued: “At 20, I gave my life to the Lord. Two years later I was in the newspaper for winning an amateur boxing championship.

“Around the same time four of my mates got life in prison for murder. It’s because of God’s grace I’m doing what I am.”

BoxUpCrime is on the road to expansion after Stephen and his team won Project Lab 2017, a competition run by the Cinnamon Network to give Christian projects the chance to win £30,000 worth of funding, plus coaching to help them grow and replicate their project in churches across the UK.

“The experience was one of the most amazing things I’ve done,” Stephen said. “Project Lab gives you the ability to understand your burden and build the infrastructure around it.

“It’s been such a helpful learning curve and has really helped me to gain a stronger sense of mission and be more intentional in our ministry.”

BoxUpCrime is now also operational in Havering, Lambeth, Redbridge and there are imminent plans to run the project in Tower Hamlets. The project also has its own fitness label, which includes boxing equipment and sports clothing.

Stephen is excited by what’s happening in BoxUpCrime. “I believe that God is saying just focus on doing my will and I will make everything happen and give BoxUpCrime the longevity you are looking for.”

In the short-term Stephen wants BoxUpCrime to have a presence in all the high risk London boroughs, but his long term goals are even bigger.

“We want to be all over the world, anywhere where’s there’s a young person that needs help, we want to be there to meet their needs.”

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