We caught up with new Empire Fighting Chance ambassador, ITV’s Alex Beresford, on why he felt compelled to partner with Empire Fighting Chance, why boxing is positive for young people, and how to understand the reasons behind why knife crime is now an epidemic across the UK.
Alex: “My name is Alex Beresford, I’m a TV presenter from Bristol and I’m the new ambassador for Empire Fighting Chance.
I’ve decided to become an ambassador for Empire Fighting Chance because I believe that their values are the same as mine, I really believe in the work that they do, I’ve done similar work in the past, and I think it’s great that we can join up together and I can also shine a light on the charity and the great work that they do.
I’m a Bristol boy, I’m passionate about Bristol, certainly passionate about inner city areas, I’ve grown up in and around here myself, so for me it was a bit of a no-brainer, Empire Fighting Chance is at the heart of the community.”
What role can boxing play in the lives of young people?
“I’ve always had an interest in boxing, my great-grandfather was a boxer, his nickname was Dublin Curly, my grandfather grew up teaching us how to box in our living room, I liked to go into fights, so yeah I’m really passionate about the sport, and also the discipline that it brings.
That’s what is great about Empire Fighting Chance, it is bringing that discipline through sport and fitness, but here they’re doing so much more than just boxing, it is about several different things outside of the ring, and when all of those things come together the kids stand a real chance.”
How does Empire Fighting Chance mirror your own values?
“Empire Fighting Chance and myself, we have the same values, I feel that we’ve got the same approach when it comes to tackling anti-social behaviour, working with kids that have unfortunately fallen into gangs, working with kids that are on the periphery as well, you know I believe that us coming together, we could make a real impact in the city.”
Why is it important for young people to have role models to look up to?
“This is the great thing about boxing, in any other sport the sportsmen and women aren’t always accessible, but here at Empire Fighting Chance we’re right in the heart of the community and boxers usually train in a gym which is situated in the community.
When the kids walk through this door, they become inspired very quickly because we’ve got world champions in this gym that they can look up to, and they can see just how hard they’re working, and how they prepare for a fight and how much discipline that comes with.”
What advice would you give to young people to motivate them to be successful?
“When I talk to young people, the one thing I always say to them is always try your best, work as hard as you can in school, so that you only have to do it once, because school is such a short period in our lives, but it is the foundation and it does provide a certain amount of discipline for us to go forward in life.
I always say work hard, believe in something, don’t put any barriers in your mind, let your mind go wherever it wants, believe in yourself, bit of a cliche, we’ve heard it all before, but these things really do work… and try and pick something you’re passionate about.”
Is supporting young people who are caught up in knife crime a driving factor for your involvement?
“You know, knife crime is an epidemic up and down the UK at the moment.
I was…what’s the right word? Fortunate? Unfortunate enough to meet a young person who has carried a knife in the past, but through coming here and filming and meeting that young person I quickly realised that deep down he’s a good person, and that he doesn’t really want to leave his house with a knife.
For me it’s about spreading that knowledge and… giving people a better understanding as to why young people leave the house with a knife, and when I say ‘why’, I’m not looking to make excuses because under no circumstances should you be leaving your house with a knife, because as we know statistically you’re more likely to be hurt by your own knife than somebody else’s.
So it’s really important to work with these guys, identify the reasons as to why this is happening. Once you understand the reasons you can put a plan together and move forward, but if you don’t understand the reasons, with all the will in the world, you’re not going to fix it.”
Alex Beresford was talking to Neil Maggs of Maggs Sport Media.