A Maverick Stars programme aimed at supporting armed forces veterans has grown from strength to strength, with hundreds now taking part at boxing clubs across the nation.
‘Operation Warrior’ has proved an outstanding success. The eight-week courses feature boxing sessions, team building days, guest speakers and mental health first aid. Following an inaugural project in partnership with Tom Harrison House and Derry’s Gym in Liverpool, the programme is now being delivered throughout the north-west, north-east, the midlands and the south-east. Plans are in place to extend the scheme further.
Operation Warrior was set up to support ex-servicemen and women who encounter mental and physical health problems upon leaving the forces. Boxing has a positive effect on confidence, motivation, and stress levels. The initiative is the brainchild of armed forces veteran and head of Maverick’s veterans’ programmes, Tony Gilley.
“Many vets encounter problems when they leave the forces,” Tony said. “There can be problems with addiction, isolation, and poor physical and mental health. Our work is based at boxing clubs and the courses help raise self-esteem through improved fitness and other opportunities.”
The programme at South Wye Police Boxing Academy in Hereford has proved extremely successful. Maverick Stars ambassador and GB boxer Delicious Orie has been a regular at the sessions – when training commitments allow. The talented super-heavyweight is tipped for big things at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer, and the Paris Olympics in 2024.
Initiatives are also in place at Willaston ABC, Birkenhead, North Mersey ABC, Liverpool, Elite Boxing, Bolton, North Star ABC, Sunderland, Fox ABC in Oldham, Amir Unsworth Boxing Academy, Lincolnshire, and West London ABC.
Other boxing gyms have partnered with local football clubs to widen their community reach. Examples include Hamer ABC and Rochdale AFC, 5-Ways Boxing Club and Burnley FC in the Community, Derry’s Gym and Liverpool FC Foundation, Penwortham ABC and Preston North End and Curzon Ashton FC and Magic Hatton Boxing and Fitness.