Baraka Youth Boxing
Baraka Youth Boxing
Every week, on Friday and Saturday, the Baraka youths gather on Ladbroke Grove for their boxing classes. Since Baraka started the classes in Summer 2018, their popularity has grown. The youths’ boxing coach, Mohammed Senhaji (Mo), explains why.
‘In terms of boxing, we teach them combination skills, footwork, pad work. We give them confidence by praising them and engaging with them. We get them to partner up, so they bond with each other.
‘They do boxing, they do weights, but they also get the chance to play games and chill out together’.
This communal aspect to the sessions has been the key to their success, says Mo, who has seen the Baraka classes attract young men from British Somali, British Moroccan and other backgrounds. The classes are open to all.
Some of the older boxers, the over 18s, have taken the opportunity to volunteer at the class, to supervise the younger participants. And each week a small group also get to us the kitchen and cook for the collective. Mo explains: ‘last time we made Shepherds Pie, before that it was Spanish tortilla, chicken breasts with chips and gravy. We always do a bit of salad. And there’s always fruit as a snack.’
Word of Mouth
The Baraka youth boxing clubs started in Summer 2018 when Mo met many of the young people on the annual Baraka residential trip to Hindleap Warren. Mo quickly developed a rapport with the youths, which has continued back in West London.
‘I don’t want this to be the same as every other youth club’ Mo explains, ‘so I ask them what they want in life and they tell me. They’ve done things like started a YouTube channel and a funding site. They want to get GoPro cameras. They’ve already got 100 subscribers on YouTube and they haven’t put their first video up yet’.
Word of mouth has seen the club grow and move to a bigger venue, the Canal Side Centre, just off Ladbroke Grove by the Grand Union canal.
Not Just Boxing
The Baraka boxing club enables Mo, who is also a qualified youth worker, to interact with young people who are normally difficult to reach. They raise issues such as bullying and other problem behaviours that get in the way of successful participation in the school system.
‘I also work in a school that a lot of them go to. There are issues with not listening and being rude to teachers. So boxing is a form of bait. It enables us to engage with them. We have their trust, their respect and their confidence. There is a hierarchy, but in a positive way’ says Mo.
‘There’s a respect for a boxing coach. I listen to them, I give them time and I praise them a lot. If we see a problem, we can talk to them. They don’t understand what bullying is sometimes, but we can explain to them what it is.’
Mo says the young people who come to the boxing classes will often open up about life: ‘They talk about gangs, they tell us where they can’t go because of gangs. We can talk to them about radicalisation and to be wary of which talks they go to. We can talk about relationships, about sex, about how they talk about girls and women.
‘We can talk to them about hygiene, manners, social media…we talk about routes into employment. We’re working with some of the young people to get them on to apprenticeships. We also have a bit of banter, it’s not all heavy…’
Classes take place on:
Fridays 5:00pm – 8:30pm
Saturdays 5:00pm – 8:30pm
The time is usually split between a younger (11+) group (5:00pm – 7:00pm) and older youths (15+, 7:00pm – 8:30pm)
Venue: Canalside Centre, Canal Close, London W10 5AY
Follow Mo on Instagram: Mo2fitness