I don’t often talk about the charity work I do but I thought it was about time I broke my silence. Not to self congratulate but to promote the charity itself (link on my website).
I’ve been a supporter of good causes for as long as I can remember, I bought my first poppy aged 11 and I’m proud to say that I still wear it to this day to commemorate our brave troops. But in recent years I’ve wanted to get more involved and so earlier this year I signed myself up to take part in a charity boxing match against a friend. It was to raise money for the local community centre, a place dear to my heart. I held my 11th and 13th birthday parties there, we didn’t hold my 12th there as Dad accused the staff of stealing his extension cable, it turned out it my uncle Terry had actually taken it and repackaged it as a present to me, he’d forgotten it was my birthday and so had to improvise. He told me not to say anything but my Dad found out and banished me to the garden shed, fortunately thanks to the extension cable I was still able to play my Xbox.
I trained hard for the fight, body pump, body attack, circuit training, spin classes, all of these things were at risk if we couldn’t save the community centre. As the fight drew near I began to collect sponsors, and sell tickets for the event. I watched Rocky 11 times, it was Rocky 5 mainly, the way he builds a relationship with his son after the family go back to Philadelphia really moved me, so much so that on occasions I couldn’t train for a couple of days after watching it. I knew my opponent had been training hard too, I’d seen him out running, I knew even though it was for charity he would want to win, as would I.
I remember the sound of the first bell, suddenly it was real, it felt like an out of body experience, the hall was packed and there I was stripped to the waist, they’d requested that I wore a vest with the charity’s details on but I refused, I had my routine, I was a purist. Jab, right hook, left hook, uppercut, all key words I’d learnt from a boxing podcast I’d listened to the day before. It dawned on me the last fight I had was with a girl at primary school who squashed a chip on my glasses and pushed me over. It really upset me for weeks after and even now if I think about it hard enough I can feel the anger stirring inside me. And that’s what I did, I pictured her laughing, mocking little eight year old face with her stupid pig tails and glasses and I threw a punch with my right hand as hard as I could “Take that Olivia Burton” I screamed as my opponent went crashing to the canvas.
The room fell silent as I stood there, chest heaving visibly in and out, I walked out of the hall and back to the dressing room, stood in the shower I thought about my school life, the pain I’d been through, the smearing of potato on lens. All these years helping charities, sacrificing myself and the one person I really needed to help was me. With the money I raised I went on a week long holiday to the south of France, just to get away from it all. The centre still survived, if anything I think it works better as it now, a block of new build flats.