Boxing For Personal Growth

Boxing For Personal Growth

Getting to know each other

The holidays are long and difficult for young people living in poverty. For this reason during end of year festivities, a group of 12 young people from ATD Fourth World Spain, from various neighbourhoods of Madrid, organised a series of activities. This is a group that meets Thursdays to spend time together and to debate. They were motivated by the possibility of getting to know each other in different ways. Ways that would allow the young persons to see each other in a different light. Something they felt important.

Some of the members of the group come from Vallecas, a neighbourhood in the south of Madrid, while others are from Ventilla, Usera and Parla. Neighbourhoods that share a fundamental struggle to understand Spanish democracy. But nevertheless want a more just, egalitarian and multicultural Spanish society.

A contact at the Social Combative Association (ASC) of Vallecas gave them the opportunity to organise a beginner boxing workshop. At the same time the youth also learned about the Vallecas neighbourhood.


Boxing as an activity provides a space that allows participants to overcome isolation, routine, and also build a positive group identity through sport. Also, physical training and the figure of the coach are important to understand the capabilities of the body, and to know the values of a sport related to combat but also in which discipline, companionship and self-control are fundamental pillars.

The young people of the group in this article talk about what the boxing workshop gave them.

For our group of young people from ATD Fourth World Spain, the holidays are always an opportunity to do activities that help us to get out of our routine.

That is why last December we contacted the ASC to hold a four-day boxing workshop at their premises.

Getting to Vallecas was a challenge for those who came from far away. Mostly due to the distance and the transfers needed when using public transport. Before applying bandages and putting on our gloves some of us had already lived an adventure. Others, who live in the neighbourhood, were luckier and could wait quietly eating sunflower seeds.

Four intense days

They were four intense days during which we got very tired. Richard from ASC had no mercy and almost as soon as we walked through the door he made us skip rope and helped us to perfect our punches.

At first with our puffed cheeks, we thought it would be impossible. But day by day, as we the young people repeated the exercises and activities, with self-imposed discipline, enjoyment, and the satisfaction of tiredness, what initially seemed impossible became small achievements.

Boxing is like this. The closeness and the physical aspect, and in some exercises we saw one another’s faces closer than usual. We practised in pairs and amid shared efforts we broke into a sweat together, where it didn’t matter whose perspiration was whose.

Richard, with his attitude and his experience, shared with us how, unlike what many people think, boxing is a sport that requires humility and effort, and that it should never be an excuse to let violence come to the forefront.

These were fantastic days, in which we strengthened arms and ties and came away with new friends.

It was such a success that several young people expressed their interest in getting a place at the ASC to carry on training.

Photos: ©ATD Fourth World Spain

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