Fight for Peace – Boxing Toward a Better Future
Fight for Peace seeks to draw young people off the streets through its academies in Rio de Janeiro and London, by strengthening their sense of self-worth through different types of combat sport.
The journey takes us to a rather impoverished neighborhood where FFP's London Academy is located. Here we meet up with Luke Downdey, the non-profit organization's founder and director. Luke leads us through into the still-empty training hall, where the odor of cold sweat is not difficult to detect. Half the space is taken up by an imposing boxing ring, the other half by floor mats. Lining the walls are punch bags, as well as gym equipment.
Personal Discussions – the Quid Pro Quo
Luke introduces us to three FFP members to let them describe their experiences for themselves. Lydia has been coming for nearly eight years. "It's made a hugely positive impact on my social life and my fitness level. I've received a lot of help and advice from the staff and people coming to Fight for Peace everyday. It is a family that will help you, teach you, and support you and the dream you want to achieve."
Concept Based on Five Pillars
Leonas, who found out about FFP during a period when he was quite stressed and looking for a boxing gym, says: "My coach gave me a huge amount of motivation to never give up and always push past my limits. I learnt to push harder in the gym and that moved into my day-to-day life, where I started to feel that I could achieve anything I wanted to, if I put effort into it." Jeilani echoes his friends' comments. "Fight for Peace is the best thing in the world. The environment is great. They give you opportunities and things to look forward to." FFP's concept is based on five pillars: 1. Boxing and martial arts training, 2. Personal development and education, 3. Support and mentoring for personal problems, 4. Job training and access to the world of work, 5. Youth leadership, whereby participants themselves take on responsibility within the project and become role models.
From Hard Training to a Sense of Pride
The main appeal for most of the young people who attend the Academy nonetheless remains the training sessions. As Leonas explains, "A lot of people who come here don't have a lot of confidence. This is where the training helps so much – the more you train, the more confident you get in other areas." All three acknowledge that FFP has given them the confidence to try new things and to discover new facets of themselves. The training begins. The mix of participants could hardly be more varied, be it with respect to age, skill, physical condition or ethnic origin. But they all train together in a disciplined and resolute manner.