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‘I believe it was needed after the pandemic’: Glasgow boxing club talks about their FREE sessions

A boxing academy in Govanhill is making a difference with its Feel Good Friday sessions for mental health and wellbeing.

The sessions, which take place every Friday between 4-5pm, are completely free for all and have already begun to make a difference in the community.

Anthony Qualye, 42, founder and lead coach of Southside Boxing Academy, told the Glasgow Times the classes began as a result of the pandemic.

He said: “I believe it was needed after the pandemic.

“There was a lot of suffering and isolation, and a lot of suffering for people to just get out.

“In boxing, we usually say that the bag is medicine and it’s come to light that it is, it’s therapeutic for people to hit a bag for stresses and anxieties.”

The sessions have been through various funding platforms and have now found a home via Glasgow City Council’s mental health program for the time being.

Anthony said: “We did the sessions as a pilot for Sanctuary Housing, and it went really well.

“We had people turning up wanting to do it and we realized that it was a success and that it was helping people.

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“Sanctuary Housing didn’t want to fund it again as it was just a start-up pilot for them, so we acquired funding from Glasgow Mental Health, Glasgow City Council’s mental health programme, which allowed us to continue the program for a further 20 weeks, which we’re more than half-way through now.”

Glaswegian Times:

However, Anthony doesn’t plan to end the sessions after the 20-week programme.

He said: “We’re going to do Feel Good Fridays as one of our programs that we apply for through the lottery so that it will be able to continue.

“I’ll fight to be able to keep this because it’s needed.”

As part of the Feel Good Friday sessions, attendees can do their own thing, or work with coaches who attend sometimes.

Glaswegian Times:

There are a range of activities to choose from, such as the fitness area where you can find the treadmill and other equipment, or you can simply hit the bags or take part in bag drills.

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At the sessions, staff are also on hand to support those needing help with their mental health – with the academy having forged close links to SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) for further support if needed.

Glaswegian Times:

Additionally, you can use the sessions to socialize to boost mental health.

Anthony said: “There are people that are isolating all week and they don’t see anybody and it’s a shame.

“So, people can eat and just talk.

“That’s a big one that people don’t notice – that you can get out the house and chat to somebody and that’s mental health support.”

Thus, the sessions are a place to socialize, get fit and hopefully feel good.

Glaswegian Times:

Since the sessions began, there have been a lot of personal successes for those in the local community that attend.

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Anthony said: “We’ve got a boy that comes to the sessions, and we’ve built his confidence up that much that we’re maybe going to get him into being a bit of a coach.

“He’s only 16, but he comes in and he just wants to help people and he doesn’t even realize that by doing that, we’re helping him.

“That’s my success story from this.”

He added: “We have a guy that comes in and this is his wee bit of time away to destress.

“We usually get a lot of men that turn up on Friday and if they can come here and release their stress, then they go home and can have a nice weekend.”

Glaswegian Times:

Anthony even stated that he has seen great differences and progressions in those that attend.

He added: “What I’ve been trying to do since I opened Southside 10 years ago, is change perspectives on boxing.

“People think boxing is bad and they only think of people getting injured. They never hear the good stuff. I’ve been trying to change perspectives and it is starting to happen.”

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