#25: Martin Bisp, transforming lives with boxing therapy at Empire Fighting Chance

#25: Martin Bisp, transforming lives with boxing therapy at Empire Fighting Chance

Martin Bisp is the co-founder of Empire Fighting Chance, a boxing gym in the UK that provides Boxing Therapy to vulnerable young people. In 1972, Empire Amateur Boxing Club opened in Bristol, producing a long line of champion boxers, and like most boxing gyms, have a strong community. In 2006, the direction of the club took an unplanned turn when Martin Bisp and Jamie Sanigar decided to have a conversation with 2 young people who were dealing drugs across the road from the gym. To try and get them off the street, Martin and Jamie invited them in for an impromptu session with the invitation to come back in any time.

The young people did come back, bringing friends along each time and before they knew it, Martin and Jamie were working (for free) with 50 young people, 5 days per week. From there, schools started to approach them to engage some young people experiencing challenges in schools and the police also started to refer young people. It became clear to Martin and Jamie that they needed to build something sustainable that could reach as many young people as possible. Empire Fighting Chance officially became a charity, which now supports over 5,000 young people per year. They now offer 4 psychologically-informed boxing programs, delivered by qualified therapists.

In this episode, Martin shares what they have learned along the way, the ways in which they evaluate their impact and how they learn from their failures. It's helpful to hear from someone like Martin who applies an analytical lens to the work, ensuring it meets the intended outcomes, informed by the young people. Martin also shares some of the success stories of the young people who have engaged in the program, seeing some young people return to school, start university, leave gangs or even now be employed by Empire themselves.

Empire Fighting Chance now train other boxing gyms and therapists around the world in the application of Boxing Therapy. If you are interested in taking on the training you can contact them by emailing [email protected]

To learn more about the work of Empire and see the incredible impact, you can visit their website: https://empirefightingchance.org/ or find them on social media.

Host: Megan Corcoran, Wagtail Institute, https://wagtailinstitute.com/

SOS Palestine is an NGO and not for profit that was established in 1966 to support children and young people at risk due to family breakdown or the loss of a parent. They offer programmes to strengthen families and to provide out of home care services in Gaza and the West Bank. As you can imagine, they are currently working harder than ever, and financial support is needed. You can learn more about their work or donate by visiting https://www.sos-palestine.org/

The episode is brought to you by our sponsor, Teachers' Well. You can learn more about their work or purchase a compass journal here: https://www.teacherswell.com/

Music by Kabbilistic Village https://kabbalisticvillage.com/