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'I thought I needed to do something' - Yarmouth gym offers free boxing lessons to bullied kids

PUBLISHED: 11:03 11 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:12 11 June 2019

Tony Norman, 36, who runs Spartans boxing group at Legends Gym in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Joseph Norton

Tony Norman, 36, who runs Spartans boxing group at Legends Gym in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Joseph Norton

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Videos of gangs beating up young people have angered a Norfolk boxing club into offering free lessons to bullied children.

Spartans Amateur Boxing Club is based at Legends Gym on Steam Mill Lane in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Google Maps.Spartans Amateur Boxing Club is based at Legends Gym on Steam Mill Lane in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Google Maps.

Tony Norman, 36, trainer at Spartans Amateur Boxing Club in Great Yarmouth, said he had seen at least three videos posted on social media of "kids ganging up, bullying other kids" when he decided to act.

"I thought I needed to do something to help these kids," he said.

One of the videos appeared to show a group of boys chase and beat up another.

Mr Norman said he will give a free month's training to any child suffering from bullying.

Tony Norman, on the left, with Kai Smart, 14, who won a gold medal at the Amateur Boxing Alliance's national schoolboy championships in London in February.Tony Norman, on the left, with Kai Smart, 14, who won a gold medal at the Amateur Boxing Alliance's national schoolboy championships in London in February.

"Boxing gives them a bit of confidence, self-belief, they feel part of a group, where in the videos they are isolated," he said.

He noted the example of a 16-year-old boy who after joining the gym has gained the confidence to stand up to bullies.

"I was training the boy's mother when she told me about the bullying," Mr Norman said.

"He refused to go to lessons, he refused to go to school.

"I said, Bring him down.

"He has really grown, he's back at school," the trainer said.

The boy has now fought in three bouts.

Mr Norman said quite a few parents take their kids to the gym and say they need "toughening up".

"But boxing is not about that, it's about having a bit of self-confidence," he said.

"I don't say to them, 'Go back and beat that bully up', I say, 'Walk away'.

"There's no point fighting out on the streets," he added.

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The trainer also welcomes bullies to the gym in the hope they might change their ways.

"Some might be peer pressured into doing it, and they don't really want to do it," he said.

"Fighting in a controlled environment gives them the chance to channel their aggression in a positive way."

The club, based at Legends Gym on Steam Mill Lane, was opened only last year but has already seen success with some of its boxers having won national titles.

In February Kai Smart became the gym's first national champion.

Junior boxing for 6-years-old and up is on Monday and Wednesday from 4.45 to 5.45pm.

Teenagers and adults, from 14 years, train on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 7.30 to 9pm.

For more information contact Tony Norman on 07720 536523

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