A new programme linked to World Series of Boxing team the British Lionhearts has been launched here today aimed at increasing participation in boxing in London ©British Lionhearts

A new programme linked to World Series of Boxing (WSB) team the British Lionhearts has been launched here today, aimed at increasing participation in the sport in London.

"British Lionhearts in the Community" is set to be delivered in six London Boroughs over a 12-month period and aims to engage with more than 2,600 men, women and children.

It is also aiming to create 12 new community boxing hub sites and deliver training and opportunities to enable people to get involved in the sport as a coach, official or volunteer.

The programme is funded by Sport England and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and will be delivered by a network of boxing clubs andcommunity groups overseen by England Boxing.

Super heavyweight Joe Joyce, the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games champion and Baku 2015 European Games gold medallist, who is from South London, welcomed the initiative.

"Boxing brings huge benefits to people and communities and it is great to see that the presence of the British Lionhearts has contributed to the development of this programme which has the potential to do so much good for people across London by getting them involved in the sport," he said. 

"It is a great thing for me and the rest of the squad to be part of."

The programme will be delivered through a series of 24 community engagement days spread across Tower Hamlets, Camden, Westminster, Harrow, Enfield and Kensington and Chelsea.

Each community engagement day will take place in a busy public space and feature a mobile boxing ring managed by trained England Boxing coaches.

Joe Joyce says the programme is a
Joe Joyce says the programme is a "great thing" for him and the rest of the British Lionhearts squad to be part of ©Getty Images

Members of the public will be given the opportunity to try boxing training, learn basic skills and sample aspects of the sport, such as hitting a punchbag or working the pads with a coach.

Individuals that show an interest in learning more about the sport will be directed to their local boxing club.

There will be opportunities for people to learn about coaching and volunteering opportunities in boxing in their local area.

"It is less than four years since that incredible summer when Nicola Adams and Anthony Joshua warmed the hearts of the nation by winning gold at the London Olympics," said Johnson.

"We have been working hard to build on their incredible success and I am delighted to back this scheme, which is taking the sport out to Londoners with the aim of boosting participation levels across the capital."

The first phase aims to engage with more than 2,600 people across the six Boroughs and establish contact with individuals that are interested in taking up boxing or becoming more involved with the sport.

In phase two, the programme will deliver a series of Boxing Leaders and BOX Coaching courses to those that have expressed an interest in coaching or volunteering.

By the end of year one, the programme aims to establish a dozen new boxing hub sites in gyms, schools, colleges, sports centres or community spaces across the six boroughs.

Joe Cordina was among the British Lionhearts boxers present at today's launch
Joe Cordina was among the British Lionhearts boxers present at today's launch ©British Lionhearts

"Boxing as a sport is growing in popularity, and this programme offers a great opportunity to help get even more people involved with their local clubs," said Phil Smith, Sport England's director of sport.

"Boxing is a great way to keep fit and meet lots of new people.

"We would encourage as many people as possible to go down to these community events and give it a go."

England Boxing has appointed its community support officer for London, Richard Powers, to project manage the scheme.

He is due to coordinate a range of partners that will help deliver the community engagement days and Boxing Leaders and BOX Coaching courses.

C K Wu, President of the International Boxing Association (AIBA), said: "AIBA strongly supports the initiative here today in Covent Garden as it epitomises the true value of our sport.

"England Boxing has done a fantastic job in promoting our sport at grassroots level which is essential to ensure the long term vitality of our sport.

"This community programme is fully aligned with our HeadsUp! initiative which aims to show the social impact of boxing and I give my full encouragement to England Boxing and its partners to continue to engage with the boxing fans in a country which is well known for its passion for our sport."