Fight club PC boxing clever to beat crime
Former heavyweight boxer police officer starts weekly sessions for youngsters
02 August, 2019 — By Briony Pickford
Constable Paul Reading: ‘I have seen a lot of kids who were very aggressive, and I thought, they need some physical activity’
A PROFESSIONAL boxer who became a bobby on the beat is running free weekly sessions for youngsters in north Westminster.
Police Constable Paul Reading, a former heavyweight, set up the club in the Little Venice Sports Centre, Crompton Street, 11 years ago.
It now boasts 30 young students in each class with more than 2,000 children having a taste of the physical, but disciplined, sport in that time.
PC Reading said: “I know the importance of exercise, I had my first fight as a schoolboy at 13, my last was when I was 39 – 65 fights in total.
“I have seen a lot of kids who were very aggressive, and I thought, they need some physical activity.”
He added: “These children don’t have many men in their life, many role models, so it’s good to be able to provide something for them. They come to me and talk about all sorts. With all this knife crime increasing, you’ve got to get to the children young.
“Originally we had an age minimum of eight years old but now we’ve lowered it to four (to 20).”
The club also provides a service for helping young offenders who arrive to help out as part of community service.
Gannat Lamei, left, and Saifullah Lamei at PC Reading’s boxing class
They often come back to train with PC Reading.
He said: “One young boy was arrested for carrying a knife and knuckle-duster and was sent to me for 12 weeks.
After his community service was completed, he came back and trained at the club for 18 months and at the end of that he got an apprenticeship.”
Young people at the club learn the importance of arriving on time, diet, keeping fit, and boxing skills. If anyone shows potential, Mr Reading takes them to a local affiliated club.
He added: “When the Met officers have their boxing tournaments coming up, I invite them to train at the club with the children. It’s just a great way to bridge that gap between more local officers and the youth.”
There is also a club for disabled children that runs from 5-6pm on Wednesdays in the centre. It allows wheelchair-bound children to take part in a sports club.
The club was helped by Cllr Melvyn Caplan with gaining funding.
“He made it possible to get the gloves and equipment”, said PC Reading.
Classes run from 6-7pm every Wednesday and Friday at Little Venice Sports Club for four- to 20-year-olds.