UEL student takes boxing mobile in fight for the community
Boxing lessons offered to vulnerable youth
It took a split second for Shannia Richardson-Gordon to reach out to a young boxer who had just been defeated. In that moment, she began her journey to create her own mobile boxing gym and altered her future trajectory.
Shannia Richardson-Gordon, social studies student from the School of Education & Communities, is the founder of Power Mobile Gym, which helps young students gain a sense of purpose and improve their fitness and confidence through her free boxing classes. She started boxing at 11 and has since become a boxing coach and now founder of this inspiring gym.
Shannia, pictured left, said, “I witnessed a young 16-year-old boy lose a boxing match and he was visibly upset. He became angry and said he wanted to give up. As a boxer and coach, and knowing the benefits, I had to step in. He became my first student and I have never looked back.”
Power mobile gym now has around 150 youth who attend the free classes. These classes, offered to vulnerable youth, ages 13-20, take place in various parks in east and southeast London, such as Thamesmead (Gallions Hill) and Wellington Park. As the first few months of these new classes took place during the pandemic, it was a welcome escape from deprivation and isolation.
Shannia adds, “I firmly believe that many mental health issues are derived from financial hardships and that poverty is a root cause to many of the problems we face in society. I can see the positive impact this has had on the youth. Poverty is a real issue for most of these students and along with the wider misery caused by lockdown and the terrible impact of coronavirus we are embroiled in a separate hidden pandemic that also cannot be ignored.”
One year later, Shannia has been offered support and kit for her students from Lucozade Sport as well as gym space with the assistance of Champions for Change. With a plan to raise funds to take some of her students to a boxing camp in Jamaica with Lennox Lewis, she is in constant discussions with the England Governing Body for Boxing who are advising her on achieving her goal.
Shania says: “A bleak employment context, the rising grip of poverty and mental health makes for a brutal truth for young people, and this is a way for them to channel their stress. I really want to make a difference and offer them opportunities, whether it be a boxing camp or in work.”
Shannia also continues to use all her connections to help her students get advice or work experience through several channels; hosting CV building workshops or encouraging them on an employment path, such as taking a further boxing course which enables them to be able to become coaches themselves. Quinton Shillingford, a professional boxer and boxing coach, offers these boxing tutor courses and Shannia could see the benefit in them as she herself completed one of these tutor courses.
Although Power Mobile Gym now offers a range of services tailored to suit all individuals ranging from professional fighters down to beginner/recreational fighters, it continues to help the vulnerable youth by offering free classes to them.