July 19 - Fight for Peace, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that combines boxing and martial arts with education and personal development for young people in deprived areas, is to receive a grant of £474,000 ($715,000/€550,000) from the Big Lottery Fund over the next three years, it has been announced.
The new funding will help develop education awards and training courses for young people, as well as supporting costs associated with the delivery of induction and personal development for all attendees on Fight for Peace programmes.
Initially established in Rio de Janeiro in 2000 by Englishman Luke Dowdney following a research trip for university the Fight for Peace, otherwise known as Luta pela Paz, mission is to provide practical alternatives to crime and violence using sports and education among 11 to 25 year-olds.
Dowdney, a former British Universities boxing champion in 1995, used his passion for boxing and martial arts to provide young people an alternative to the armed violence and drug trafficking that occurred in Complexo da Maré, a neighbourhood of 17 favelas in Rio.
In 2007 it officially became an NGO and opened its London Academy, which is located in the Borough of Newham not far from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which played host to the London 2012 Olympics.
"This generous grant from the Big Lottery Fund is invaluable to Fight for Peace," said Marigold Ride, head of programmes for Fight for Peace UK.
"The organisation has achieved so much since its inception and this grant will enable us to do even more at a time when the demand from young people for Fight for Peace's services is at an all-time high.
"At Fight for Peace we are fully committed to expanding the project to enable us to help as many young people as possible.
"We are very ambitious about what we want to achieve and with the valued backing of our supporters coupled with the hard work and dedication of the staff and project members we believe we can continue to grow and change lives for the better."
A survey of Fight for Peace participants conducted on behalf of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation in July last year, estimates that 175 crimes have been avoided as a result of the project, which has also delivered £1.2 million ($1.7 million/€1.3 million) worth of savings to the Newham Council and a total of £2.5 million ($3.8 million/€2.9 million) in additional social benefit over the past 12 months.
More than 3,000 young people have joined the Fight for Peace London Academy since 2007, and the survey suggests that of the 97.5 per cent of students who were classed as NEET - not in education, employment, or training - at the point of recruitment, 89 per cent progressed into employment, training or further education, while 96 per cent indicated that they are fitter and feel differently about their health.
London 2012 super heavyweight boxing gold medallist Anthony Joshua praised the work that Fight for Peace carries out in London and said boxing is a great tool to help young people improve their lives.
"It was a humbling and inspiring experience to meet the people involved with Fight for Peace and spend time with the kids and hear about how boxing is bringing them hope and helping them to build a better life," he said.
"Boxing has a proven track record of bringing benefits to people and communities all over the world and this is a great example of how the sport can be used to provide young people with a purpose and a structure that helps them in all aspects of their life."
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November 2012: Olympic boxing champions Adams and Joshua visit Fight for Peace's London Academy