Liverpool featherweight Jazza Dickens has praised the roles boxing gyms play in local communities across the country.

The 31-year-old boxer says local amateur clubs have saved lives across the country without people realising.

The Liverpudlian was defiant when asked how combat sports can be used to tackle crime and disorder among the younger generations.

Dickens said: “The boxing gym is a real place. From the outside looking in when you hear people punching bags, you think it’s gonna be a hostile environment but it’s the nicest environment in the world.

“We will not stand for bullying, racism or anything bad. It doesn’t go in boxing gyms. Boxing doesn’t teach that. It teaches kids to rid themselves of all these defects in life.

“Most clubs have saved lives without people knowing it so they don’t get the credit because no one’s seen the damage which could have been done.”

Violent crime in Liverpool increased by 27% between 2020 and 2021.

Last year also saw several high-profile incidents of gun and knife crime taking place within the city.

Dickens also highlighted the work of local charity ‘Weapons Down Gloves Up’ (WDGU) for which he is an ambassador for.

The initiative seeks to provide a safe space for young adults who come from difficult backgrounds and lack a healthy home environment.

WDGU also offers free specialist training for young adults to achieve qualifications for their chosen career path.

Dickens said: “They’re doing a great job, getting kids off the street and into work.”

The former British champion also highlighted the sport’s welcoming nature and how its doors are open to anyone, regardless of their past or background.

“Anyone’s allowed to go boxing. It doesn’t matter what your past is or what your future looks like. When you go in that boxing gym you’ve gotta have manners, respect, be able to listen and want to learn.

“These are fundamentals in society now that we don’t really have the chance to implement on our kids.”

Paul Edwards, Salisbury ABC

The sentiment is echoed by local boxing coach Paul Edwards who is the head trainer at the historic Salisbury Amateur Boxing Club.

Edwards says the role of boxing gyms in local communities is underrated across the country in terms of the funding they receive.

“Boxing is the ultimate sport of discipline. You never really get a bad kid.

“It’s a single sport but it’s like one big family in here. It’s a very close gym and we have that many fighters and coaches, once you come into a boxing gym it’s with you for life.

Edwards also emphasised the benefits which the sport brings even for those who aren’t looking to compete.

“It keeps you on the straight and narrow. When you come to a boxing gym you’ve gotta live the life. We do keep fit sessions, but they’re run by proper boxing coaches who implement all the stuff we believe in – discipline, living a healthy life and achieving outside the gym too.”

Featured image credit: Probellum