Nottingham School of Boxing has been backed by three-time WBA champion Tony Bellew.

BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2016 Unsung Hero award winner Marcellus Baz BEM joined former WBC Cruiserweight Boxing Champion Tony “Bomber” Bellew at Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice on Friday 8 September ahead of an “Evening with Tony Bellew” event in Rotherham.

Speaking to Baz at Hellaby Hall, Tony explained how important boxing has been to his life.

I’m going to be totally honest, boxing saved my life, if I didn’t go to the gym and I didn’t box, I don’t know where I would be.

“I’m a young kid who’s come from the streets of Liverpool, I don’t come from a privileged background and there aren’t many places rougher, tougher than what you’ve got to be to live there.  “For me, I left school with no qualifications and I had dreams of playing football for Everton Football Club but the fact of the matter was that I wasn’t good enough, I was too fat and I just wasn’t good enough to play football for them, but, I harnessed what I did have. What I did have was an aggression, a viciousness, some people would say nastiness but I learned to hone that and use it to my benefit.”

Drawing parallels to the difficult place that some of the people who use Nottingham School of Boxing and Switch Up come from, Tony gave a message to young people who fall into tough situations.

He said: “My message to kids carrying guns or knives or selling drugs is there is a lifespan on these things, it’s a young man’s game what they’re doing and you will not last, there is no future in this. “It’s very easy for a man to carry a knife or a gun in this modern-day era that we are in – you’re all just cowards in my opinion. What they need to do is harness all the work that they put in to get these kind of tools and weapons and use to progress to where you want to get in life.

“Nothing comes easy, if anything was easy, everyone would be doing it. I understand a lot of these kids are doing it to defend themselves but understand. When you go in the ground there is no gang.”

Tony explained how vital he feels Nottingham School of Boxing and Switch Up is for the local community, he explained: “I think it’s (the work NSB and Switch do) fantastic, and I think it needs highlighting more.
“I’m from a generation where we played in youth centres, we had places to meet and go. Nowadays these places have gone and I look towards out government for these things, give the children something to do, if you entertain the children and you entertain the youth then you are going to eradicate the likes of these gangs. Before you know it, these kids will want to go out and play and enjoy each other’s company.”

Marcellus is delighted to have the backing of such an inspirational figure, he explained: “To have a true champion backing what we do is amazing. I really can’t thank Tony enough for saying the words he said and for taking the time to chat to our kids. To hear him speak about his past so openly was truly inspiring and I feel like he made some really thought provoking points. I’d like to thank Tony for being so helpful. Our gym wouldn’t survive without the backing of people like him”