Never Judge a Book

Monday, 24 March 2014

As you may be aware this blog was supposed to be about running. Admittedly it was supposed to be a foil to the time and distance obsessed blogs you might encounter, but I intended it to include something of the sport of quickly putting one foot in front of the other.

I suppose my absence from the blogosphere, and the distinct lack of running related material, both indicate something of a divorce from the sport. But let's be honest here, I was never much of a runner anyway and it's unlikely the sport will mourn my absence.

I suppose I could gain succour from the fact that my love affair with stumbling and tripping around the Scottish countryside lasted significantly longer than any romantic involvement Katie Price has ever indulged in. And I never subjected myself to nights alone with the Lego rocket scientist, Peter Andre. 

But my real and long-lasting love has always been with the sport of boxing. It began in 1975 when my old man got so fucked off with me asking him to play football with me on our balcony during the summer holidays that he shipped me off to the Brixton and District Amateur Boxing Club (by the way, a balcony in this context is something that was provided by Southwark Council to accommodate a coal bunker in their social housing stock rather than a viewpoint with French doors that overlooks a pool. But I'm kinda thinking you realised that).

Anyway, after a few years of mixed pugilistic success I walked away from the sport to indulge my captaincy of the regimental drinking team. I returned some years later to be dealt a very short and violent welcome back but began coaching at the boxing club near where I work. Now, I should admit that my initial thought, when invited to engage with the wild young things of Battersea, was: 

'I spend enough time during my working day having television sets launched at me from the twelfth floor of the Winstanley estate by the little bastards to want to spend my evenings in their company too (an 'estate' in this context is a dastardly grouping of council housing blocks, designed by Lucifer himself, to enable the discreet sale of narcotics and the casual murder of its residents rather than a rolling country pile....but I'm thinking you realised that too).'

But engage I did and the fruits if that engagement were told within he pages of the Firefighter magazine.

Now, in my four years of working with young boys (and on occasion girls) at the Battersea Caius Amateur Boxing Club I've been waiting to experience the youths I imagined might walk through those doors. You know the ones I mean: trousers round their arse, tattoos on their necks, and knives in their waistbands. So far I'm still waiting.

We work in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police and offer young people a physically and mentally healthy alternative to a progression through the judicial system. One such boy was referred to us; at 16 he was already guilty of something that the millionaire Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling would have him jailed for life. 

So, the boy turns up, a snarling, swaggering product of South London's sewers. He's been given the opportunity to fight as a way out of violent crime and as an alternative to being incarcerated in an institution where violence and intimidation are the highest currency. Apparently something of an irony from the rule-setters but one where he feels quite at home. Why not go for it?

After an initial introduction where it's explained that, in this establishment, no judgement is made on a past, and all that's expected is sweat and hard work, our young boy settles down and cracks on with the training. He works hard, the snarling and swaggering subside, and beneath all that is a nice, polite young boy. 

Is this someone in desperate need of a positive role model? I like to think so. Others have suggested that his demonstration of deference is merely fear at getting a right hander from his mentors but I argue that you need to take a look at this lad. If I had his skill at 16 the position of Captain of the drinking team would have been occupied by someone else other than me. The lad has inate skill and ability and can live with all of the coaches at the club.

On Saturday he'll be pitched into his first amateur contest. In the leafy environs of Dorking. The nervousness I feel in my own heart is something that's been absent for a very, very long time. I know how our young lad feels because my own memories still exist from 25 years ago. 

It's certainly something that running never brought me. Maybe that's why I was so shit.


Two Old Broads said...

Hope he does well!

Two Old Broads said...

Hope he does well!

Subversive Runner said...

Thank you. He fought like a lion but lost a unanimous decision. Very proud of him though.