Described as the ‘heartbeat’ of Somerton ABC boxing club, Mark James goes the extra mile when it comes to coaching in his community.
“It’s important that kids have something to do in the neighbourhood” he explains.
The past 12 months in particular, has seen the club’s membership increase dramatically.
This is thanks to Mark giving up 15 hours a week to provide opportunity for tots, young people and the elderly to access boxing – for fitness or competing.
He holds four weekly sessions, including Sunday afternoon, and even more time during fights or attending sporting festivals.
He does all this alongside a full-time job as a Mechanical Sprayer and supporting his large family.
“I do it to see them growing as boxers, enjoying it and even winning comps” he explains.
Based in the Communities First area of Somerton, on a tough estate, the multi-use facility is transformed in to a boxing venue for each training session. Mark arrives early to hang up boxing bags and erects the portable boxing ring ready for the high numbers in attendance.
Leigh Williams, Sport Development Officer at Newport Live explains why Mark is such an asset to the club: “He provides opportunities for the hardest to reach individuals through boxing and acts as a father figure for them.” He calls him a ‘true community legend,’ adding: “Mark has influenced many individuals from potentially going down the wrong path by using boxing as the tool to educate and focus them and provide an outlet for many individuals.”
For Mark, it is more than just sport, it’s a passion.
And his advice for anyone thinking of coaching?
“Definitely go and do it – you get a lot out of it!”