One of UK's youngest boxing coaches Shannia Richardson-Gordon shares her story with GMSW

Boxing is full of highs and lows where champions compete under the bright lights of huge arenas but boxing has a special underbelly that touches many layers beyond just the big pay-per-view fights.

Boxing at a community level has a beautiful feel to it, the sport has the ability to change lives, save and inspire people beyond belief and bring people together for good.

Boxing in its purest and most basic form provides discipline, the strength of character and opportunity to make the best out of yourself no matter what struggles you’ve been through or are going through. 

This sport from a community aspect is amazing but Boxing Futures is something that is extremely close to my heart and they are doing amazing things for the grassroots/health aspect.

One of their coaches, Shannia Richardson-Gordon, is an inspirational 18-year-old coach who is set for amazing things – and Brooke Streatfield had the pleasure of speaking to her about her role and her time spent in boxing…

Boxing Futures was founded in 2013 and provides non-contact Boxercise programmes within local communities to socially disadvantaged young people primarily – but not exclusively – to 16-25 year-olds.

Their mission is to make an immediate and positive impact on young people’s lives by improving their mental and physical wellbeing through sport, building empowering and non-judgemental relationships, promoting pathways into volunteering, training, education and employment through increasing confidence, motivation and development of soft skills.

Richardson-Gordon, one of the youngest coaches in the country, volunteers and works for the Boxing Futures UK Charity. Shan grew up in London and explains: “Growing up I had to mature quite quickly, times were hard growing up and I looked for work pretty young. It had its good days and bad days but it was definitely financially tough.”

Shan enjoyed school and went from Sixth Form to university where she now studies Sociology – on going to uni Shan said: “I went for myself and to progress but also to prove people wrong. A lot of people I knew dropped out of education and school or got put on to a young offenders programme so I feel really proud of myself that I have stuck to it.”

Her involvement in boxing wasn’t an accident though, the sport of boxing runs deep in the family, Shan explained how she first discovered her passion for boxing: “My dad made me try so many clubs from dance to tennis, American football and everything – I have quite a few boxers in my family. Larry Ekundayo, Spencer Fearon and Darren Hamilton, so I have always come from a boxing background. I tried it out at my local club and loved it ever since.”  

Shan recalled how she first got involved with Boxing Futures: “Honestly, for me, I have always found happiness in helping others, I have done fundraisers on my own and everything prior to Boxing Futures but I thought to myself, how can I mix my passion for helping others with my passion for the sport.

“Searching on the web I came across their website and I went through their volunteering programme and I told them about my passion and experience – we just went from there. I loved that I could do something to help others and build my own kills of working with people to give them a hand/chance in life.”

Shan went on to explain a little bit of what she does with Boxing Futures: “I have taken part in projects with mental health patients, adolescent centres where children basically live there and it is shocking to see exactly what they go through. I also work with people that have both mental and physical disabilities which is hard to see because one day they are happy and passionate but the next day they don’t even want to know you so it’s a personal challenge as well. The whole volunteering programme I do is rewarding but challenging in so many ways.” 

“It is a beautiful moment when you get a person who works with you, you get to know their story and understand them a little more. The main thing is to be happy and progress. It’s little stepping stones for them and I am all about helping. You never know, but seeing me and the team could be the best thing in their lives and really make their day – the time, love and attention – given in the right way make me people grow.”

Boxing means something different to each one of us, to me, it is my life – it is something that has given me hope and inspiration when I thought I couldn’t fight on and for that, I am forever in debt to the sport.

When I asked Shan what the sport meant to her, her views echoed that of mine, she said: “Boxing is honestly my life – if there is one thing I could say I am really good at is boxing. I talk about it, I do it every single day from morning to night. I come from a part-time job and I practise it daily. As a coach, I am open minded and am always learning from people I am surrounded with and working with. Boxing is my way out, my saviour – no matter if you are feeling stressed, happy or whatever emotion – boxing is a way out and that means a lot to me.”  

Shan has seen first hand how boxing has changed lives directly in an example very close to her heart, Shan added: “I had a best friend that started selling drugs and carrying knives, it took him a little while but I coached him and now he is working, driving, gone to uni and started really enjoying life now because of the discipline that boxing has given him. He was in and out of the criminal justice system and has left that behind and does boxing with me 4 times a week. I really see first hand how it changes even in your own friendship and family group.”

“Going forward I am also coaching with Limehouse Boxing Academy, I know it’s far out but I want to own my own boxing gym one day. It is ambitious but I think if I put my heart in it I know I can, absolutely nothing is too big. I am obviously going to continue with my university degree – I’d probably need a full-time job for financial stability but my heart lies in boxing.”

To wrap up the interview with this amazing young coach, I asked her exactly what boxing has taught her, Shan replied beautifully to finish: “Boxing has taught me to be disciplined, to expect the unexpected and be able to deal with it just like you have to in a fight. One of the most important things it has taught me is that it is not something that only the great can achieve, it is something that everyone can do. I have even done it in my grandad’s care home – boxing has no limits or restrictions – it is for everyone!”

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