Ducking and Diving: Why Boxing Clubs Hit the Targets Other Sports Cannot Reach in Deprived Communities

David Barrett, Lee Edmondson, Robbie Millar, P. Solomon Lennox

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In contrast with the steady commodification of professional boxing, the broader social value of Community Boxing Clubs (CBCs) is increasingly recognised by policy makers as being supportive of initiatives that aim to reduce offending and the risk of offending, improve health outcomes, and provide employment opportunities. Drawing on the tradition of oral history among boxing protagonists, 50 coaches were engaged in semi-structured focus group interviews over a two-day period in November 2019. The narrative emerging from these conversations reveals that the location of boxing clubs and the environment in which they exist determines how CBCs operate, who they engage with, and what outcomes they are able to deliver. Evidence from the research challenges many preconceptions of CBCs. For clubs in the most deprived neighbourhoods, the boxing club is a ‘safe space’ which offers a sense of community to those who cross the threshold. This concept of a safe space applies as much to groups not traditionally associated with boxing as it does to young people at risk of offending or marginalised communities, such as asylum seekers. The experiences of those who support and engage with the sport of boxing offer a counterpoint to their lives outside the gym and provide a route map for successful community-led sport development.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBoxing, Narrative and Culture
Subtitle of host publicationCritical Perspectives
EditorsSarah Crews, P. Solomon Lennox
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781003312635
ISBN (Print)9781032320564
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2023

Publication series

NameRoutledge Research in Sport, Culture and Society

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