“Since starting, it has made me think about my future” – one young person’s boxing journey

Case Study

Tylaa*, aged 15, was referred to the boxing session at The Project PT in Blackbird Leys, Oxford, after being identified by her school as being at risk of exclusion. Increasing concerns surrounding aggression and antisocial behaviour, alongside challenges with low self-esteem, put Tylaa at risk of engaging in criminal activity and being vulnerable to exploitation.

At school, Tylaa was frequently truanting from lessons, with her ASD and Autism creating further barriers to engagement in education. When coaches at The Project PT started to get to know Tylaa, she shared that she didn’t like socialising with people she did not know and also found sitting down in a classroom challenging, both of which were contributing to her not attending lessons.

Tylaa was initially disengaged with the boxing sessions, although did show some curiosity. A few sessions in, however, she was joined by her sibling; it was immediately clear that having someone that she knew there helped Tylaa to feel more comfortable, and she agreed to put on boxing wraps and gloves and to try out some padwork with one of the coaches. Tylaa excelled in this activity and was quick to learn more about the technique required to bring power to her punches.

Since then, Tylaa has engaged well in the sessions with her sibling, joining in with the warm up, main session and finishing activities. She has learnt a number of boxing techniques and can now demonstrate combination sequences of punches and defences. As a result, Tylaa has achieved a Level 1 Boxing and padwork qualification.

Tylaa has benefitted from mentoring by The Project PT coaches to develop emotional resilience and management. Through boxing, Tylaa has learnt how to better cope with her emotions and regulate her anger. She now uses sport to release any emotions she has built up in school, and is able to confide in coaches about any problems she is facing in order to find a solution.

Tylaa’s guardian commented that she has displayed a more positive attitude since her very first session, and enjoys learning new skills and the discipline that comes with boxing: “As a young person with ASD, she has always struggled to regulate her emotions. The sessions have allowed her to vent her anger and frustration in a positive way, and we have noticed at home that she returns as a much calmer person. She also struggles with conventional learning and so physical sessions are accessible and inclusive.”

At school, teachers have noticed a significant improvement in Tylaa’s behaviour; she has also recently attended and sat exams in Maths and English. Tylaa’s teacher attributes these positive steps to her participation in boxing: “Project PT’s sessions have supported her to grow in confidence, which has led to her becoming increasingly sure in her own abilities and in turn, strengthened her own ability to make decisions for herself and to make positive choices regarding her education.”

When asked about how the sessions have benefitted her, Tylaa’s own response echoed that of those around her: “It’s getting me more confident in myself. It [helps to] let all my anger out and means I don’t do anything stupid. Since starting, it has made me think about my future.”

* Names have been changed

This intervention was supported by StreetGames, who have been commissioned by the Thames Valley Violence Prevention Partnership to develop and implement sports-based interventions with the Thames Valley region to support the reduction of serious violent crime in ages 10- 25. We do this by working with community organisations to co-design, deliver and embed these interventions within their own communities through our sports justice work. 

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