Tom Roberts Memorial Event at Christchurch Boxing Club
A BOXING club has held a memorial event for a 21-year-old man who died of stab wounds in Bournemouth town centre.
The rally was organized by the Christchurch Amateur Boxing Club following discussions with the family of Tom Roberts.
The event was also used to highlight the work of the social enterprise Gloves Up Knives Down.
The community benefit corporation is supported by the boxing fraternity in its efforts to prevent and reduce knife crime.
Tom’s family contacted Gloves Up Knives Down after his death on March 12 to ask if they would be willing to attend the event.
Dozens of people, including boxing club regulars and Tom’s friends and family, attended the memorial on Wednesday, May 11.
Speaking at the event, Philip Roberts, Tom’s father, said: “On behalf of the Roberts family, I would like to thank you for all the support you gave Tommy during his lifetime and all the support you have brought us since his death.”
Jon Woods, who runs the Christchurch Amateur Boxing Club, said: “It was a brilliant tribute for Tom, Tom’s father who wanted to do the memorial and the rest of the family.
“It gets the message across and boxing has a big part to play.
“Around Bournemouth, Poole, Dorset and across the country, there are amateur clubs like us doing the same things day after day, week after week.
“I’m sure this message will help place young people in the right fields.”
David Edgell, one of the founders of Gloves Up Knives Down, was present at the event.
He presented three boxing kits as gifts to the club, which will be given to three deserving youngsters.
Gloves Up Knives Down started as an initiative and a logo in a visual campaign before gaining popularity and traction.
The founders worked with child psychology professor Joana Carvalho Costa, a former United Nations consultant, on how they could make a meaningful difference against knife crime.
“We’re targeting kids from not particularly good backgrounds between the ages of seven and 13. If they haven’t done boxing, that’s fine,” David said.
“We give them a boxing kit consisting of a professional standard helmet, gloves, vest, shorts and a small bag to carry it around and take them to a gym.
“We now know after three years that the transformative effect of taking a child away from their device, away from their friends, not necessarily in the ring, but it’s about physics, nutrition and most of all the notion of support , support and encouragement.
He added: “Our long-term goal is to try to develop responsible citizens, because if you can change the life of this child, you could change the dynamics of the family, change the dynamics of his peers and change the dynamics from the community. That’s what we all are.
Boxer Mace Ruegg, a professional who trains at the club, said the sport saved his life.
“I could have been in jail, I could have been stabbed,” Mace said.
“It proves me right every day and I owe everything to boxing. It gives me this sense of discipline.
“Even though my career won’t go far, I will always have boxing in my life. I need it and that’s all I know.
To find out more about Gloves Up Knives Down, go to glovesupknivesdown.co.uk