Unsung Hero – Jane Couch nominates Tom Foley

Unsung Hero - Jane Couch nominates Tom Foley

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 have one unsung hero nominating another. Nobody has done more for women’s boxing in recent times than the incomparable Jane Couch MBE.  The ‘Fleetwood Assassin’ battled the authorities to win the right for women to box legally in the UK. She paved the way for the Olympians and current world champions to ply their trade.

Jane was crowned world champion five times and took on the very best – often fighting at short notice with little or no recompense - during a pro boxing career that stretched from the mid-90’s to 2008.

Since retiring, Jane has dedicated her life to helping others and she is a regular fixture at Barton Hill ABC in Bristol. Head coach at the gym is Tom Foley, a man Jane says is typical of so many volunteers who devote their time – and money - to support their community.

“He opened up Barton Hill boxing club years and years ago and he pays the rent every year – I think it’s five thousand a year – to keep the club running. He’s never had any funding and the kids are so reliant on the club, it’s such a deprived area. He does other stuff there, charity events to raise money for it [the club].

“He’s just a really good all-round bloke that’s just in it for the community and it’s well needed.”

 

Nominate your boxing unsung hero via the contact page at:

www.maverickstars.co.uk

Or message us via:

 @maverickstars1                     maverickstarstrust

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 Heroes – Pat and Roy Richardson

Unsung Heroes - Pat and Roy Richardson

Each week 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, it's two for the price of one as we highlight the selfless work of Pat and Roy Richardson. Nominated by Collyhurst and Moston ABC's Thomas McDonagh, we decided to get the lowdown on all they've done for amateur boxing from their granddaughter and former commonwealth champion, Stacey Copeland.

"Grandad started our gym as Bredbury Steelworks 44 years ago," Stacey said. "They moved into the place we're at now and just in the last three years we've changed the name from Bredbury and Stockport [ABC] to the Roy Richardson Boxing Academy.

"My nan, initially her role was predominantly organising everything. They've organised trips to New York, Cuba, incredible places for kids who'd never been out of the local area. Granddad taught a few of the boxers to read and some of them have stayed with them when they've fallen on hard times.

"They've done a lot around boxing, but it's what they've done for people and the community, particularly young people, that is quite amazing."

Watch the full interview with Stacey below to find out more about the inspirational story of Pat and Roy Richardson.

Nominate your boxing unsung hero via… twitter: @maverickstars1 / Instagram: maverickstarstrust or our website: www.maverickstars.co.uk

 

Unsung Hero – Darren Barker pays tribute to Tony Burns

Unsung Hero - Darren Barker pays tribute to Tony Burns

Each week 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.

To mark the sad passing of boxing's Tony Burns, 80, we caught up with former middleweight world champion and tv pundit Darren Barker. Described as his 'second father', Darren explained the impact Tony had not just on his life and career, but that of hundreds of boxers from all walks of life and abilities.

"He gave up the biggest part of his life to help others," Darren said. "I struggle to put into words how important he was in my life. A mentor, someone who could extract the best out of me as a sportsman and a person."

Tony, who was honoured with an MBE in 2009 for services to amateur boxing, was also an inspiration to Darren's late brother Gary - a junior Olympic champion who died in a car accident aged 19. 

"It hurt Tony a lot when my brother died. We were all so close. My Dad boxed at Repton, then me and my brother. Tony was very close to us all, he was there for us. It's crazy that for all the 365 days of the year that Tony could've passed away on, he passed away on my brother's birthday," Darren added.

Watch the full interview for more on Tony Burns, Darren's thoughts on boxing's role in communities, and his plea for all involved in the sport to do more to help grassroots boxing.

Nominate your boxing unsung hero via… twitter: @maverickstars1 / Instagram: maverickstarstrust or our website: www.maverickstars.co.uk

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

Good News Travels….

Good News Travels....

It's been a good week in the press for Maverick Stars Trust with publications nationwide giving column inches to our initiatives.

The Star in Sheffield reports....

Owls captain, Barry Bannan, has helped a local charity drive blitz passed their target of £500 as they seek to provide meals for young kids across the city, becoming the latest footballer to play his part following the incredible work being done by Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford.

Daniel Barton, of Mentalmate said, “We originally had planned to feed 50 children per day in partnership with Maverick Stars Trust… I shared this plan across social media and had a few queries about how people could also get involved in terms of both food and money donations. So I set up a fundraiser for anyone who wanted to help us reach more children.

In the Bolton News....

A community hub has surpassed its expectations of delivering 150 meals a week to the vulnerable- giving out more than SIX times that amount in just a week. Elite Community Food Hub in Halliwell is now seeking to raise £14,000 to keep going until the end of April, as demand for their service soars.

The hub has been working in partnership with Maverick Stars Trust to deliver food to young people and families around Bolton who would normally rely on school for a nutritious meal per day.

Meanwhile, in Bognor Regis, the Observer has this to say....

Southern Counties club, Bognor Regis ABC, was unable to return to its premises of eight years last July because its landlord needed to rent out the space at full cost, 'to recoup losses due to Covid-19 closures'.

Despite 'standing temporarily homeless', the 98-year-old club can now 'look forward to marking its centenary' thanks to support from the local community.

 

Man of the People

Man of the People

He's preparing for the biggest night of his boxing career, but Jazza Dickens is still helping others less fortunate in his home city. The affable Liverpudlian takes on Ryan Walsh in the 'Golden Contract' final with the carrot of a lucrative two-year, five-fight deal up for grabs for the winner.

"It's life-changing," Jazza said with a grin. "More than life-changing! It'll put me in a position I've never been in before. It'll put my family in a position they've never been in before. All the sacrifices made - I'm doing it for them, as much as for me and for my community."

Community is a word Jazza mentions often, although his work helping others goes largely goes under the radar. He's currently working on an initiative with Maverick Stars to help families affected by addiction - a subject close to his heart owing to his father's drug addiction and subsequent recovery.

"We need to bring back our communities," Jazza said. "Like the work you're doing at Maverick [Stars], it's amazing work and I'd encourage anyone to try and pick their community up, to get involved because so many things come from it."

Jazza is currently sporting a 'Mo' as part of Movember and all donations will go to the Sisters of Mercy who feed and clothe the homeless in Liverpool city centre. If Jazza reaches his £5,000 target, the moustache will stay in place for the Walsh fight

Meanwhile, the likeable featherweight has been training meticulously for the fight of his life under the guidance of coaching team George Vaughan and Maverick Stars' very own Derry Mathews.  The 29 year-old faces a big challenge against Norfolk-based Walsh - a man he has great respect for - but he's convinced it will be his night under the lights when the pair meet at a tv studio in Wakefield.

"A lot of things make sense coming into this final - the amount of time it's took, the COVID situation. I feel like it's all fallen into place," Jazza added.

Help Jazza help the homeless - https://uk.gofundme.com/f/5000-and-the-muzzy-stays-for-the-fight

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."

 

 

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.