Joshua Buatsi paid a special visit to Birmingham’s King Edwards VI Balaam Wood Academy
Joshua Buatsi went back to school before vowing to put on a masterclass of his own this weekend in Birmingham.
The world ranked No.1 light heavyweight makes his highly-anticipated BOXXER debut on Saturday at the Resorts World Arena.
But before he steps into the ring on Coronation Day to take on undefeated Polish fighter Pawel Stepien, the former Team GB Olympian pulled no punches in a special visit to meet teenage students from the most under-funded school in Britain.
Buatsi led a star-studded BOXXER panel alongside Founder and CEO Ben Shalom, English middleweight champion Tyler Denny and British Female Championship challenger Kirstie Bavington at King Edwards VI Balaam Wood Academy.
Buatsi, who hopes to extend his flawless 16-0 record this weekend with victory, provided the students with an incredible insight to life as a professional boxer.
The panel unearthed their unique upbringings and each revealed how they turned any struggles into motivations to succeed in the world of boxing, whilst sharing stories as to what their lives were like as teenagers, how they first got into boxing and the positive impact the sport has had on their lives.
Respect, teamwork, dedication, and work ethic were then put into practice with a fun and engaging PE session for the group of secondary school pupils, led by former WBA world lightweight champion Anthony Crolla – all as part of BOXXER’s commitment to drive grassroots participation in the sport as part of providing accessibility and inclusivity to remove any possible amateur entry barriers to boxing.
Speaking at the session, following an exclusive Q&A hosted by talkSPORT presenter and former European bantamweight champion Spencer Oliver, Buatsi said: “It’s amazing. Boxing changes lives. I always used to think ‘how is that possible?’ But I look at my life now and I see what the sport has done for me
“To come back to a school like this and show these kids that it is a competitive sport but it can also change your life. So I’m very happy to be here. My amateur coaches put In hours and hours of coaching with me and they did it all for free purely through their love of the sport. We need people like that. I’m delighted to be involved here today. Giving back like this will hopefully stick with these kids for years and years in their lives.
“I’m proud to give back to the local community here today but I am locked in and focused for Saturday and, most importantly, I’m really looking forward to it. First and foremost I have to put in a good performance. When I’m in the ring, one-on-one with [Pawel] Stepien, I will handle my business.”
Birmingham-native Bavington challenges Tokyo 2020 Olympic Gold Medallist Lauren Price MBE for the first-ever British Female Welterweight Championship this Saturday.
The former European champion recently paused her own career in education as a PE teacher to focus full-time on professional boxing – but Bavington was only too happy to offer her expertise to the young group of students in attendance.
BOXXER Founder and CEO Ben Shalom is the youngest promoter in the UK and told the children that they are the masters of their own destiny.
Shalom said: “"Sport shows us the value of discipline, hard work and how to work with others, and if you can learn and apply these attributes in other areas – whether it's sports or business or something else – you will be successful. For me boxing teaches these lessons better than any other sport and that's why it's so important to create opportunities for young people to access it, because it teaches those values.
“The young people at today's session were inspirational in their enthusiasm and I'm grateful to Kirstie Bavington, Tyler Denny and Joshua Buatsi for making time to take part today, just days out from their key career bouts this Saturday night at Birmingham's Resorts World Arena," said Ben Shalom, BOXXER CEO and Founder.”.
Charlotte Gilley MBE, Founder of Maverick Stars Trust, added: “We're delighted to be a part of this project that will hopefully inspire more students to get involved in boxing. Schools like this are the breeding grounds of our future champions and there is nothing like the diverse nature of boxing to provide inspiration in and out of the ring.”
Team GB hero and Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Ben Whittaker will lead a second BOXXER contingent later this evening at a nearby gym in Birmingham to continue grassroots support in the local area ahead of Saturday’s huge ‘Crowning Glory’ Fight Night – which will be screened live on Sky Sports. Quotes and imagery will follow later today.
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