McEyeson in his new gym.

Former prisoner turned therapist opens new gym to empower children through boxing and therapy

A former prisoner turned therapist who fought in an underground boxing ring using gloves made of foam mattresses and prison socks is opening a new gym in Camden.

Albert McEyeson, 43, served three years at HMP Wayland in Norfolk from 2003 for drug-related offences, where he was reintroduced to boxing.

After he was released, McEyeson trained as a therapist at City and Islington College and founded the charity Action Youth Boxing Intervention.

Now, McEyeson is opening a new gym combining sport and therapy for young people, including those who are involved in crime, who are from poorer households or have special needs.

The gym, which is opening tomorrow, will hold boxing training sessions followed by group or one-to-one therapy. Participants will discuss their mental health, well-being and general concerns under McEyeson’s guidance.

He said: “Boxing teaches you resilience, to never give up, and to control your aggression. In a fight, you have to be calm in a stressful situation.”

He added: “This skill then resonates in their everyday life. If a teacher is shouting at them or if someone is trying to bully them, they can be calm and respond in a positive way without violence.”

Image of therapist and boxing coach, Albert McEyeson.
PROFILE: McEyeson trained as a therapist after being released from prison in 2006 (Image credit: Action Youth Boxing Intervention.)

After training as a therapist, McEyeson founded Action Youth Boxing Intervention in 2017.

The charity currently runs programmes at a dozen schools across Camden, Islington and Barnet.

The organisation also runs a variety of programmes to address specific social issues in the community.

This includes ‘Fit & Fed’, which operates during school holidays to address child hunger and isolation by providing young people with a free healthy meal after boxing and therapy sessions.

Another programme, ‘Stand Up, Stand Out’, is described as an empowerment and well-being programme for girls and young women.

McEyeson says that as part of this project young girls who are susceptible to gang activity are supported by women with similar life experiences.

He said: “They’re being groomed by boys in gangs to hold guns and knives and drugs and they get themselves caught up into these situations.

“Having older women to speak to is very powerful for the young ladies to then turn their lives around.”

The new gym will be located at the London School of Mosaic.

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