BOXING star Tommy Coyle says he is determined to inspire schoolchildren across East Yorkshire to succeed in their studies after securing funding to expand his ‘Box Clever’ educational programme over the coming 12 months.
The WBC & IBF International champion established the programme last year and has been inspiring children facing tough times in their lives with the support of Hull Children’s University. Now, with a new 12-month sponsorship deal agreed with Neil Hudgell Solicitors to purchase the equipment and kits, Coyle can continue offering the popular course to schools across the region.
And he is determined to make his sports star status count by inspiring those that look up to him.
“I recognise that as a sports star, many young people will listen and take notice of what I tell them. I myself looked up to local sports stars as a kid,” said Coyle.
“I truly believe that given the fortunate position I am in, I need to give something back, and if I can help steer a few young people away from trouble, and to commit to their schooling to succeed in life, it will mean a great deal to me.”
Coyle has already enjoyed success with his programme and recently completed the first of four courses with pupils selected to take part at Cottingham High School.
Children were only allowed to participate if their teachers completed a ‘Box Clever school report’ to confirm their excellent behaviour and attendance for the week before the programme, with any student facing detention also missing out on learning from the star.
“It had an immediate impact, and children who were often spending time in detention after school were no longer doing so, they wanted to be on the course with Tommy,” said Alex Kirk, community partnership manager at the school.
“When we made this course available to students we were inundated with requests from the pupils, so much so that we identified 20 for the first course, and are now looking at another three courses.
“Many of the pupils are in danger of falling out of education and perhaps going down the wrong path, but they listen to Tommy more than they will do a teacher. They connect with him as his life could have turned out very different, and he makes that clear.”
Coyle maintains high levels of discipline throughout the programme, instilling a message that only dedication and commitment brings rewards in life.
Students learn through boxing exercises and drills around footwork and movement, and only get to step in the ring and throw a punch at the week’s finale, when they face Tommy himself.
“If they take it seriously and show a willingness to learn, they get a chance to throw some punches at me in a ring, with a guarantee I won’t hit them back. Who wouldn’t want to do that?” Coyle joked.
“I’ve made the overall message of the course very clear. Dedication and passion can bring you the rewards in life. It’s not all about talent and ability, but if you are determined, do the best you can and are prepared to make sacrifices, you can achieve great things.
“I regret not having done well at school, and I’ve had to use my fists to make a living because I don’t have the qualifications to fall back on. I don’t have options, they do.”
Coyle, who is soon to open a new training academy for young people in Bean Street, Hull, has been delighted by the support of Neil Hudgell Solicitors, who have pledged £12,000 to fund equipment and training packs for pupils, which they each keep after the course, along with certificates and trophies.
“We are delighted to support Tommy on this project as he is completely committed to making a difference and inspiring young people to have the desire to aspire to achieve,” said Neil Hudgell.
“Tommy is a great example of what can be achieved through desire, passion and determination.
“Box Clever has already proved a success and just needed some extra financial support to push it to the next level. We have been delighted to help him and look forward to seeing him continue to be an inspiration to young people in schools across the region.”