G20 Boxing Club

G20 Boxing Project – “The Why and the How”

At G20 we aim to use boxing as a hook and engagement tool to achieve a variety of positive outcomes with our youth.

These include preventing youth violence, reduction in drug taking, and anti-social behaviour. Uptake in pro-social behaviours, fostering health and wellbeing through exercise, mindfulness, and positive relationships. 

Providing targeted workshops for those at risk using therapeutic evidence-based interventions to reduce the stress in young people’s lives. 

Emotional regulation happens top down or bottom up. Top down is using strategies like mindfulness. Bottom up means recalibrating the autonomic nervous system through breathing, movement, and touch. Boxing and Mindfulness covers both strategies! 

The body benefits from movement – and the mind benefits from stillness”

The Why: 

Research and evidence have shown that too much stress in childhood can have a costly impact across the lifespan. Evidence also demonstrates that children who have experienced significant adversity are not destined for poor outcomes.

By acknowledging the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) science of toxic stress, the potential for trauma and the effect this can have across the life span means we as a society need to be intervening early in prevention, recovery and buffering adverse life events, this is especially true for our youth at risk. We can prevent and counteract lasting harm. (Centre on the Developing Child Harvard)

It takes a Community of Understanding and Connectedness

Research data also confirms that most adversity stems from poverty, inequality, and unhealthy relationships – neglectful relatives, schoolyard bullies, abusive partners – but the right kinds of relationships and experiences can help to make us whole again. When we find people who support us, when we feel “tended and befriended,” “seen and known,” our bodies and brains have a better chance at healing and fulfilling human potential. Research has also shown that having strong social ties improves outcomes for all.

The How:

Connectedness Counterbalances Adversity

What you always want to look at is the balance. What is the balance between the challenges and adversities somebody has and the relational wealth or relational poverty they are experiencing?

—  Dr Bruce PerrySenior Fellow, Child Trauma Academy   

For young people who have already experienced, or may be currently experiencing adversity, there is a range of responses that can help.

At the G20 Boxing projectwe aim to use the discipline of boxing exercises and mindfulness to reduce the stress in young people’s lives. Evidence has demonstrated that providing young people with safe, stable, and emotionally nurturing relationships in safe environments fosters the core life skills they need to adapt and thrive (CDC, 2013). 

Numerous studies show the psychological and physical wellbeing benefits of exercise (Biddle & Asare, 2011; Granger et al, 2017; Pascoe et al., 2020). Our boxing exercise-based intervention exposes our young people to positive relationships in a safe controlled environment that offers an education and practice that is self-sustaining once the basic skills have been learned. Studies also show that people rate themselves more positively when they exercise, showing that there is a relationship between exercise and raising self-esteem (Ekeland et al., 2004; Lubans et al. 2016)

A sizable chunk of scientific literature also shows that exercise seems to inoculate us against stress (Edenfield & Blumenthal, 2011; Rodriguez-Ayllon et al., 2019) When we exercise – especially if we have an overdose of stress in our lives – we burn off the stress hormones just as nature intended, instead of letting them pile up. 

The added benefit of the wrap around relational youth work support provided by the G20 staff team provides the optimal relational experience to attract young people who are often the furthest from mainstream services to engage in the activities that foster health and wellbeing. 

Why Boxing as the Hook?

International evidence has already demonstrated the impact of boxing.

First, boxing teaches risk management, that actions do have consequences. It is not a free for all, most training is non-contact, the etiquette and controlled regime of any well-run boxing club instils discipline order and respect in everyone. 

It reaches and attracts young people who may be disengaged or excluded from School, youth who are being lost to peer influence without supportive adults to guide them and connect them to other forms of social engagements that can enable and support healthy transition through the teenage years.

It all takes place in a safe, supervised, structured environment with all the safety checks in place. Compare that to the uncontrolled environments our young people are navigating in our housing schemes.

Boxing also engages young people on their own terms, it reaches out to the places that other sports cant. It gives young people an outlet for frustration and aggression that are often a characteristic of teenager years.

Boxing training gives you the discipline of thinking clearly in moments of high stress, builds confidence, relieves anxiety, and exposes young people to pro-social support. Our coaches know the context of the world they come from, the support it takes, and the boundaries that must be set in keeping young people free from violence and harm.

G20 boxing is not a “one glove fits all model”. Just one of a plethora of options provided for our youth that can enable potential. 

“Our role as a community in response to childhood adversity should always be to create the environments and provide the relationships that can foster health and wellbeing – the change will take care of itself.”

Head Coach – Darren McAdam

Coach/Mentor – James Docherty

Mindfulness Coach – Ross Deuchar


Mindfulness has been described as ‘paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally’ (Kabat-Zinn, 2005, p.4). As such, this dispassionate state of self-observation is thought to ‘introduce a space between one’s perception and response’ and enable one to respond to situations more reflectively (Bishop et al., 2004, p.231). Forty years ago, Jon Kabat-Zinn realised the transformative potential of mindfulness and translated the ancient practices of cultivating mindfulness into western medical contexts (Kabat-Zinn, 2013; Feldman & Kuyken, 2019). In the contemporary world, there is a growing body of evidence that mindfulness can have a positive impact on those with depression or low mood (Segal et al., 2013, p.45); those who have contact with the criminal justice system (Feldman & Kuyken, 2019); and those struggling with substance abuse and dependence (Shonin et al., 2013). 


Biddle, S. J., & Asare, M. (2011). Physical activity and mental health in children and adolescents: a review of reviews. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 45(11), 886-895.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention. (2013). Essentials for Childhood: Creating safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Feldman, C. & Kuyken, W. (2019) Mindfulness: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Psychology. New York: Guilford Press.

Ekeland, E., Heian, F., Hagen, K. B., Abbott, J. M., & Nordheim, L. (2004). Exercise to improve self‐esteem in children and young people. Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (1).

Edenfield, T.M. & Blumenthal, J.A. (2011). Exercise and stress. In: Baum, A.; Contrada, R., editors. Handbook of stress science. Springer; New York. p.301-20.

Granger, E., Di Nardo, F., Harrison, A., Patterson, L., Holmes, R., & Verma, A. (2017). A systematic review of the relationship of physical activity and health status in adolescents. European Journal of Public Health, 27(suppl_2), 100-106.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2005) Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation for Everyday Life. London: Paitkus.

Lubans, D., Richards, J., Hillman, C., Faulkner, G., Beauchamp, M., Nilsson, M., … & Biddle, S. (2016). Physical activity for cognitive and mental health in youth: a systematic review of mechanisms.Pediatrics, 138(3).

Pascoe, M., Bailey, A. P., Craike, M., Carter, T., Patten, R., Stepto, N., & Parker, A. (2020). Physical activity and exercise in youth mental health promotion: a scoping review. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine6(1).

Rodriguez-Ayllon, M., Cadenas-Sanchez, C., Estevez-Lopez, F., Munoz, N. E., Mora-Gonzalez, J., Migueles, J. H., … & Catena, A. (2019). Role of physical activity and sedentary behavior in the mental health of preschoolers, children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 1-28.

Segal, Z., Williams, M. & Teasdale, J. (2013) Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression.New York: Guilford Press.

Shonin, E., Van Gordon, W., Slade, K., & Griffiths, M. D. (2013) Mindfulness and other Buddhist-derived interventions in correctional settings: A systematic review. Aggression and Violent Behavior18(3), 365-372.

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