Gangsterism remains a problem in the city, leading worried parents to question the safety and actions of their children. This is why, when Kings Boxing Gym was launched and marketed its programme towards parents in Woodstock, they did not hesitate to allow their children to join.
The leadership programme trains youths between the age of six and 18. Their training is free, as it is paid for by the monthly memberships of adult members of the gym.
The programme has been running for a year, offering training from top boxing coaches while the youths’ parents are at work.
On weekdays, the programme runs until 5pm, and it also runs on Saturday mornings before noon.
Though eyebrows might be raised at using what is sometimes termed a violent sport to reduce violence between children, Louw Malherbe, the chairperson of the Kings Trust, says boxing is an intense form of exercise, with only a small part involving physical contact, and the major part of it focused on discipline.
Malherbe offered an example where two children from the area were involved in a knife fight.
“We brought them in, and now they are friends,” he said.
He added that boxing did not train the youths to be aggressive, but rather to control their emotions. Malherbe believes that by emphasising disciplined activities that promote health and fitness, the youths would be more inclined to walk away from a fight.
Malherbe said Kings Boxing Gym gave the children a “family” outside of their homes where they felt they belonged, and a place where they were encouraged to inspire one another, thereby uplifting the community.
The programme, which had been running for a year, had 30 children, a third of whom were girls.
Though the children are being trained in a sport that involves physical fitness, according to Malherbe: “Boxing doesn’t stop at sport. The discipline you learn impacts on your work, your marriage and your whole life.”