Fighting For His People

Fighting For His People

Liverpool’s Jazza Dickens is training hard for the biggest fight of his life – a shot at the vacant IBF featherweight title – but the chance to help families struggling with addiction means more than any shiny championship belt ever could.

The affable scouser is now in camp for the forthcoming fight with long-time rival Kid Galahad. The pair met as young unbeaten pros in a British title fight in 2013 with the Sheffield man claiming a tenth-round stoppage.

So, revenge as well as world honours are driving factors for Jazza, but despite the life-changing opportunity in the ring, it is the help he can offer others on the other side of the ropes that is the real motivation for the 29year old.

Throughout his childhood, Jazza watched his father Colin struggle with drug addiction. Although they were testing times and the scars remain, father and son managed to maintain their relationship – through snooker! Now the pair have joined forces with Maverick Stars Trust to deliver weekly sessions helping families of addiction re-engage with each other through sport, fun activities, and special guest speakers.

“I’ve suffered the effects of years of substance abuse,” Jazza explains. “I want to show people how me and my Dad built our relationship. It’s one thing being inside addiction, it’s another completely different thing being outside of it. It’s worlds apart. It’s hard to function together when all you know is one way.”

The ‘Jazza in the CommUNITY’ programme will be based at the Derry Mathews Boxing Academy on the edge of Liverpool city centre. Families will be encouraged to attend the free sessions, aimed at providing exactly the kind of support Jazza longed for when he was a child.

“The parent can feel forgiven. The child will always forgive the parent,” Jazza says, “It’s just having the tools to do it and the support. That’s the main thing. Not only does the child need to feel they’re cared for and loved and they can go forward with their life, but the parent can also do that too.”

Happily, Colin is now eleven years in recovery and the bond between father and son is evident as they laugh and chat whilst standing inside one of the boxing rings at the gym located upstairs at Marybone Community Centre

“We used to play snooker one day a week to help build our relationship,” Colin says. “When you come into the real world after you stop using, you’re faced with ‘who am I?’ You’re faced with shame and guilt and lots of sadness at how you behaved.  You’re hit with the reality that your son witnessed all this stuff.”

Colin’s story is one of pain and regret, but also love. After several stays in detox units, it was a dramatic turn of events that eventually led to his moment of clarity and the long road to getting clean.

“I’d walked out of six detoxes,” he says with a shrug. “That last time I had a house fire. I was in hospital for three days and I came back home to my house and the windows were burnt out upstairs and I sat there thinking, ‘what’s become of my life?’

“Jazza, he’d moved out by now as I’d moved to another level of addiction. All the boxing England stuff and trophies went up in that fire, didn’t they lad!’” Colin says, turning and smiling at Jazza. “All the boxing stuff you won; it all went in that fire. I can remember crying, thinking, ‘what next? What else am I going to lose?’

Currently closed due to the pandemic, boxing gyms are set to reopen to the public on April 12. The families of addiction initiative - in partnership with Maverick Stars - is ready and waiting to welcome people into a unique support bubble.

“I asked for help and I changed something,” Colin adds. “That’s what’s needed for people that come here. They’re going to be cared for. They’re going to see a child [Jazza] who’s been there, who’s been sad and lonely, who’s focussed and persevered with areas of his life and is now in a position to give back to others. It’s totally unique.”

Jazza leans against the ropes while he listens to his Dad speak. Then, with a smile that could brighten any room, he adds. “There are people desperate for this kind of stuff. There is love out there. It can work. It will work.”

For more information about ‘Jazza in the CommUNITY’ contact us via out website:  www.maverickstars.co.uk  or drop us a message at either:   @maverickstars1     maverickstarstrust

Unsung Hero – Mark Davidson

Unsung Hero – Mark Davidson

Each Friday we pay homage to a boxing ‘unsung hero’. The lifeblood of the sport - the men and women who have contributed so much and asked for so little, who have saved lives and transformed futures.

This week, we turn our attention to Mark Davidson, Head Coach at Timperley ABC in Greater Manchester. Like most boxing gyms in the UK, Mark’s gym on the Broomwood estate offers a haven for young people to socialise, train and compete. The gym is also a community hub and at the centre of many Maverick Stars initiatives including ‘Sting Like a Bee’ and ‘Fit and Fed’.

Mark is also, indirectly, responsible for the Maverick Stars Trust coming to fruition, as founder Charlotte Gilley explained.

“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be sat here now knee-deep in boxing! I set up this charity specifically for the boxing community and it’s all because he saw something in me. I needed a self-esteem boost and I got it from that [boxing].

“He does amazing things. He’s the textbook amateur coach who puts in hours and hours in of his own time. It’s not about champions in that gym, it’s about young kids from the estate coming in – if they box, they box.”

The next mission for Charlotte is to oversee a vital extension to Timperley ABC’s gym. The club has a long waiting list and Mark has been in the unenviable position of having to turn young people away from training as he cannot accommodate them.

Click here to hear the full interview with Maverick Stars Trust founder, Charlotte Gilley….

 

Nominate your boxing unsung hero via the contact page at:

www.maverickstars.co.uk

Or message us via:

 @maverickstars1                     maverickstarstrust

Unsung Hero – Kelvyn Travis

Unsung Hero - Kelvyn Travis

Each Friday we pay homage to a boxing ‘unsung hero’. The lifeblood of the sport - the men and women who have contributed so much and asked for so little, who have saved lives and transformed futures.

This week we focus on a man credited with guiding Audley Harrison to super-heavyweight gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. It was a success story that led to a massive boost in funding for elite amateur boxing in Great Britain, a change that paved the way for Amir Khan, James DeGale, Luke Campbell, Anthony Joshua, Nicola Adams and so many more.

But that contribution barely scratches the surface in terms of the impact and achievements of Oldham’s Kelvyn Travis. In paying homage to the man, Nigel Travis said:

“He’s right up there with the best unsung heroes I’ve ever known. He’s been coaching for more than 50 years and has worked tirelessly with the grassroots of our sport. He’s carried out nearly all his work as a volunteer – many hours in gyms over many, many years.

“He became a national coach and performance coach and helped set up what is now the GB Boxing centre in Sheffield. He was instrumental in all of it and has helped develop some of the elite fighters in our sport, working at the very highest level.

“He works tirelessly as an amateur and professional coach. He is in gyms around the country on a daily basis and is especially important to Moss Side Fire Station Boxing Club, where he is simply known as ‘The Boss’.  I might be the head coach at the gym, but I dance to his tune. He’s everything to the gym, and he’s my Dad.”

 

Nominate your boxing unsung hero via…

twitter: @maverickstars1 / Instagram: maverickstarstrust or our website: www.maverickstars.co.uk

dave rimmer maverick stars

Gym Lessons for Young Dorset Boxers

Gym Lessons for Young Dorset Boxers

Despite challenging circumstances, Wimborne ABC have managed to successfully launch their 'Athlete Academy'.

Working in Partnership with Maverick Stars Trust and LeAF Studio School, head coach Dave Rimmer has created a unique boxing programme for fighters in school years 9-13.

The initiative gives participants not only expert guidance in boxing, but also the training needed to one day become coaches themselves.

The students have sessions at Wimborne ABC factored into their curriculum (Tuesday 2-4 and Friday 2-4), allowing them to get vital extra tutelage throughout the week.

*These videos were filmed before the latest Coronavirus restrictions.*

Fighting for the Homeless

Fighting for the Homeless

Derry Mathews has linked up with a homeless charity in Liverpool to provide free boxing sessions for young people.

The former champion, working in partnership with Maverick Stars, has joined forces with the AIMS project which helps 18 - 24 year olds who are not in education, employment or training, access specialised accommodation.

"I'm getting some of them involved in the sport and getting them in [the gym] twice a week," he said. "Hopefully I'm pushing them in the right direction and keeping them occupied and out of trouble.

"Maverick Stars are making sure they're well fed too. It's been brilliant working with Maverick and I look forward to working with them on other projects."

 

 

A Delicious Welcome to Maverick Stars

Maverick Stars Trust has added another big hitter to its roster of ambassadors in the shape of top amateur Delicious Orie.

The 23 year old, 6ft 6ins super-heavyweight is part of the GB Boxing set-up and has his sights set on glory - just like Anthony Joshua. The pair have led a similar path in coming to the sport late, and both share a steely determination to achieve their goals.

Born in Moscow to a Russian mother and Nigerian father, 'DJ' and his family moved to Wolverhampton when he was seven. After excelling in various sports, he started boxing while studying at university in Birmingham and learned his trade under coach Mick Maguire at the Jewellery Quarter Boxing Club.

DJ joins fellow GB star Conner Tudsbury in becoming a Maverick Stars ambassador. Like Conner, he's committed to working on Maverick's initiatives - mentoring and coaching the next generation.

"I really enjoy training with the kids," he said. "Getting them moving and motivated to train and making them see it's possible to achieve big things. It's all possible.

"It was difficult initially, coming over from Russia to a completely different environment. But, growing up, at the back of my mind I knew there were a lot of opportunities in England and you just have to work for whatever it is you want to achieve.

"That's something that I want to push to the younger generation. If I was able to do it - someone who didn't learn to speak English until he was eight, who graduated from university and has been able to get on Team GB - then with consistency and hard work anything is possible."

Plans For Operation Warrior

Plans For Operation Warrior

Due to the success of our inaugural veterans project on Merseyside, Maverick Stars Trust is set to launch ‘Operation Warrior’ in several other key regions.

The initiative has proved to be a big hit at Gemini ABC in Liverpool, with armed forces veterans taking part in an eight-week programme featuring boxing sessions, team building days, guest speakers and a mental health first aid course.

Maverick Stars has teamed up with Tom Harrison House – a specialist facility which provides an addiction recovery programme exclusively for veterans. Many encounter problems upon leaving the forces, with poor mental and physical health along with low self-confidence key among them.

Maverick Stars trustee Tony Gilley said: "As a veteran myself, this initiative is very important to me. We've had great attendance at each of the sessions we've delivered so far and everyone's really enjoyed themselves. It's vital we carry on growing this project to provide the support and opportunities for people that have served their country so selflessly."

Plans are now in place to open other key hubs once lockdown has eased. Operation Warrior will be launched in Greater Manchester, East Lancashire and the North East in the New Year.

Downtime – But Not For Long

Down-time - But Not For Long

Chantelle Cameron's been enjoying the spoils of her recent world title triumph, but insists the party will soon be over and the job of unifying the belts will begin.

The Maverick Stars ambassador was sublime in defeating Adrian dos Santos Araujo to claim the WBC super-lightweight title on October 4. It's been something of a whirlwind for the Northampton fighter since achieving one of her many goals.

"It's been unbelievable," Chantelle said. "Last week I was on a massive high and this week I'm in bed because I'm absolutely exhausted - a massive comedown! But I'm still so happy I got the win."

The new champ made the most of her first week with her new title - socialising with friends and showing the shiny green WBC belt off at local schools. Chantelle's been enjoying the down-time, but that will all change soon as she gets back to business.

"I've got the carrot now and I can dangle that carrot. People want the WBC belt and I have it. I'm not the one on the chase anymore, the [other] world champions, if they want the WBC they've got to come through me and I'm absolutely buzzing with that," she explained.

Although Chantelle believes she's a natural lightweight, the plan to unify the belts means she'll stay in the higher weight division for the time being. While the WBA belt is currently vacant, American Mary McGee holds the IBF version, while Christina Linardatou of Greece is the WBA champion.

"Katie Taylor has got the belts at lightweight," added Chantelle. "I can't be hanging around, wasting years waiting for Katie to fight me. I need to grab belts where I can so the next step is [staying] at super-lightweight."

Quigg’s Next Challenge

Quigg's Next Challenge

Former world champion Scott Quigg has joined forces with Maverick Stars for the next chapter of his career - helping to guide young people down the right path in his hometown, Bury.

The ex-WBA super-bantamweight champion decided to hang up the gloves after his last fight against Jono Carroll in March, and is now looking forward to his next challenge.

"I've achieved a lot in my career and I've enjoyed it," Scott explained. "People know I didn't finish school, I had no education but I was very fortunate I had a mum and dad that supported me. I had people that offered me help and direction and they helped me create a path to go on and achieve something. I know how difficult my life would have been without those people around me.

"I want to create opportunities for teenagers who are at a crossroads and might be getting into a bit of bother. Also, I want to help teenagers that are excelling in school - give them opportunities to go even further."

Scott will be spearheading Maverick Stars 'Sting Like a Bee' initiative in Bury. The programme, which helps to tackle anti-social behaviour by providing boxing training and employment opportunities, has proved to be a big success in the nine other boroughs of Greater Manchester and is now being delivered in other parts of the UK.

"I've seen what Maverick Stars has done - through a mutual friend we were connected," Scott said. "The town of Bury has done so much for me - boxing was banned in Bury but the council overturned that so I could fight in my home town. I think we can do really good things with help from Maverick Stars."

 

Chantelle Cameron can create her own legacy, says Moore

Chantelle Cameron can create her own legacy, says Moore

Jamie Moore believes a win tonight can set Chantelle Cameron up to create a legacy in women’s boxing, similar to the one Katie Taylor has made for herself.

Cameron fights Adriana Dos Santos Araujo for the vacant WBC world super lightweight title later on today, live on Sky Sports.

“Chantelle’s been in a position over the last twelve months where she’s a lot of risk and not a lot of reward for people to fight her,” Jamie said. “When she wins a world title, she puts herself in the frame as a potential opponent for Katie [Taylor].”

“It does open a lot of doors for her but to be honest with you, I don’t think Chantelle needs Katie Taylor,” he said. “I think Sunday will be a coming out party, a lot of people will stand up and take notice of her and then she’ll set her own path.”

Jamie then quickly added: “I think in time she’ll set her own legacy and people will look at Chantelle in two or three years time in the same light as Katie Taylor.”

Because of Coronavirus protocols there will be no fans in the arena, but that is of little concern to Team Cameron.

“It is a shame but in years to come it won’t matter,” he said. “It’ll always be down on paper in the record books that Chantelle was WBC world champion and I’m sure she’ll be able to have a homecoming fight when crowds can come back in, and we can celebrate her becoming a world champion and fill an arena in Northampton.”

Elsewhere on the bill tonight, another of Jamie’s fighters Aqib Fiaz takes a big step up.

“He’s boxing Kane Baker,” Jamie said. “that’s a little bit of a grudge match because of what happened last time.”

During midweek, Steven Ward (again trained by Jamie) stepped up to cruiserweight and won convincingly.

“Steven has always fundamentally been really good, nice solid base, great feet, good mobility for a big guy and a good jab,” Moore said. “When he sticks to what he does well instead of getting dragged into a fight he’s such a difficult fighter to beat.”

He added: “It’s definitely the right division for him and I think he’s going to be involved in some good fights over the next twelve months.”