Former Lambeth College student Dwayne Simpson was a few months short of his 21st birthday when he was fatally stabbed in Brixton last year, when coming to the aid of a friend being chased. The brutal attack on a man who has established a boxing club for children on the Angell Town Estate shocked his family, friends and community.
Lorraine Jones, his mother and a respected church minister, was determined to honour her son’s memory. Earlier this year, she teamed up with Lambeth’s most senior police officer Detective Chief Supt. Richard Wood to launch a new Brixton-based boxing scheme backed by many of the area’s top boxing coaches. Dwaynamics helps young people to develop life skills through boxing.
A gym in a Loughborough Junction railway arch opened in June and Brixton’s rising boxing stars, including cruiserweight sensation Isaac Chamberlain, popped in. Some are helping to teach non-contact boxing to eager students.
Brixton Blog paid a visit to see Dwaynamics in action. We met friends of Dwayne and coaches from Miguel’s, one of London’s most famous boxing gyms.
Two teenage boys practice jabs and crosses under the watchful eye of their trainer Mark, a 19-year-old light welterweight prospect on London’s amateur boxing scene. He took up the sport after the death of his friend last year.
“When my best friend died it was a difficult time. I was getting into arguments and fights. Then I thought: Let me turn this around and do something positive. That’s when I decided to get into the ring and start training. I started boxing when I was 17. I’ve won a few awards since then. I want to turn professional when I’m 21 or 22”.
Mark is a protégé of Don Davis, a top coach at Miguel’s, a club renowned for honing the skills of some of Britain’s top fighters, including Dillian Whyte, current holder of the WBC International Silver Heavyweight title.
Miguel’s has joined up with Dwaynamics and Brixton police to run training sessions for young people. The scheme, backed by GB Boxing Awards creator ‘Q’ Shillingford, the classes attract more than 50 children and young adults every week. Richard Davis, a Dwaynamics director who also coaches young boxers at Miguel’s alongside his father Don, trains many of the young adults who attend the sessions.
Davis sees boxing as a good way of helping young people who have gone off the rails, or those at risk of falling in with gangs. “I grew up around the North Peckham Estate so I know all about gangs. Some young people end up falling in with them because they’ve made the wrong choices”, says Davis.
“My view is that you have got to stay on the right path and sports can help with this. Boxing is a very disciplined sport and if you want maintain discipline boxing is the way to go. What we do here is give young people a sense of responsibility.
“We have an older generation of boys and girls who benefit from teaching the younger generation. They look up to these guys and it works well. It would be great to get more young people to come down here”, says Davis. “Some of the kids here are so young – what we do here is non-contact boxing. It’s a good way of helping them to learn the basics firsts. We have had support with this from ‘Q’ who has led some of our sessions.”
Shanice Shield-Mills, a friend of Dwayne Simpson, echoed Davis’s views on the positive knock-on affects of the project. She describes the project as “a dream” of Simpson’s and credits it with a creating a strong sense of family amongst young people on the Angell Town estate.
“Having grown up around Angell Town I understand some of the pressures that young people on the estate can face”, says Shanice who is 23 and a university graduate. “Sometimes there can be negative aspects, but then there are also positive ones. There are many young people doing positive things together like a family, particularly those involved in this project.
“We are all in awe of what Minister Lorraine Jones is doing in Dwayne’s memory and the fact she cares so much about the community. I would love to see Dwaynamics live on for many years to come and have a lasting impact.”
“The idea is for everyone who lives locally to share their views and have an input on what needs to be provided here”, says Superintendent Rob Applegarth.
“Network Rail gave us the use of this arch and we want local people to take the lead and tell us what they wish to see here. We want this to become a hub for all sorts of things in the community. This includes help with employment training and life skills coaching”.