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Bracknell gym set to open as community hub for veterans

A new veterans boxing gym is set to open this weekend as a pilot for a UK-wide Veterans project.

Boxing for Veterans was formed as a CIC in 2017 with the aim of raising money for Veterans charities across the area.

The idea was that by pitting veterans against civilians you would have different mindsets as well as controlled discipline within the boxing ring.

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The new gym which will be opening on Monday, August 1 on the top floor of Ozone is a culmination of what they have developed through the last five years and the community that they have built.

James Alexander, the organizations strategy and marketing advisor and army veteran said: “As the club developed, what we were noticing over time was that we were starting to form a community of both veterans and civilian supporters.

“Some of the veterans that we were working with started telling us issues that they have been having, from social isolation, mental health trauma, physical trauma, physical health trauma, injury recovery, familial breakdown and even addition.

“By engaging with those veterans, we were actually helping them recover as part of that recovery journey.”

This is when they started to change the mission statement of the CIC. Rather than just raising money for other charities they were becoming part of their recovery journey themselves.

This includes reaching out to the Minister for Veterans Affairs and organizations like Sports England whilst trying to build and grow.

Alexander added: “Up until now, we have very gratefully received donations from other members of the community and other boxing clubs.

“They’ve given up their time and their facilities and their coaches, and we’ve borrowed that and used that and that’s how we’ve been able to train the veterans.

“We always knew what was key to us was having our own facility that we controlled and that the veterans could come and use for free. But then also the civilians could come and use and through their subscription that would then fund and pay for the veterans so they can come for free.”

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The gym will also work as a veteran’s hub and drop-in center where people can go and speak to like-minded people so they do not feel isolated in the community.

The owners, Clinton Montague and Teddy Reed are hoping that this will be a huge milestone for the club.

“Our next aim is to try to replicate it in a number of locations across the UK. The southeast, especially this area with Sandhurst, Aldershot and throughout all the local areas there is a big veteran community,” James said.

“You’ve also got the same around Salisbury, Birmingham and in the North West near Newcastle. This is the pilot, then we’ll look to replicate.

“The opening day on the 1st of August and making that a success is going to be key.”

As a veteran himself, he says that, ‘soldiers will give up their time for anyone and do anything for anyone, but they won’t ask for help themselves.’

Their overall goal is to help those who won’t ask for help and support them through their recovery journey.

Some men who are currently members of Boxing for Veterans include those who have physical injuries, and with the help of coaches and the support network, they are now boxing and thriving.

This however is not just for veterans wanting to exercise or box. According to the organisation, there are men who are not able to physically fight and therefore visit as supporters or for personal and self-development.

The open day will take place on Sunday, July 31.

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