“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Many of you may know that I am passionate about boxing.
Do not be alarmed! Many ministers are, it is a Saturday sport for a start and like church, boxing gyms are often run by volunteers that all have a heart for serving the community. Boxing offers many benefits that include; positive personal and social development, as well as psychological and physical improvement. It is a wonderful sport of control, discipline, respect and community.
I am too delicate for the ring myself, but enjoy the sport as a spectator, living vicariously through my son who has followed his father’s passion. My other children will no doubt follow suit when they come of age, my youngest (daughter) calls boxing “hand ballet”.
We go to Torfaen Warriors Amateur boxing Club where I am on their committee and try and support the work as much as I can. The club was founded in ’93 and has since had over 60 Welsh Champions, 5 British Champions, 12 British finalists and 26 Gold Medalists in World Tournaments.
My passion for the sport goes outside my children’s interests as I take in many local shows and try to support the sport as much as I can at the grass root. I am often heckled as “the Rev” or “John the Baptist” – but I do not mind, it is a witness at least.
At one local show I noticed a young lad praying at ringside. His father asked him, “What are you doing?” “Praying” said the young man. The father again questioned from his corner as he fitted the head guard, “what for and who are your praying to?” The young man replied “I do not know”. At that point I could see the need for a “Rev at Ringside” and contacted Sports Chaplaincy UK to see if they could assist. I have since completed training with them and have now become the only Boxing Chaplain in Wales – and I am here to help!
What is Sports Chaplaincy?
A Sports Chaplain is someone that can assist your gym, simply as another pair of hands (John 13:1-17), but can also be there as a life coach for the men, women, boys and girls involved in the sport.
Coaches will all know that if the athlete is going through personal problems or simply feels down, their performance in the ring will suffer. A Sports Chaplain is there to be onsite as a third party, to support the pastoral needs of the sportsperson and simply come alongside for them to talk to in confidence.
Boxing is an extreme sport that comes with great pressures. Competitors train hard, causing great physical and mental stress to themselves. They usually have to train at unsociable hours affecting their family lives.
All sports people have to cope with the roller-coaster lifestyle of living with great victories and coping with failure.
Off season (or when retired), the highs and lows of competition can often be replaced by unhelpful excessive behaviors that often lead to addiction in things such as gambling, alcohol and drugs, if not managed properly.
So much is shared through sport, it is the idol of our age, yet sportsperson’s rarely have someone impartial to share their difficulties and pressures with. They have nobody independent to help them remain; humble during their victories, positive when performance lacks and someone to advocate a clean living lifestyle outside of the season or following retirement from the sport. This is where a Sports Chaplain comes in!
As the “Rev at Ringside”, boxing chaplain to Wales for Sports Chaplaincy UK, I am based in Torfaen Warriors (Cwmbran) who are fully supporting this initiative with a genuine concern for the total wellbeing of all who come – body and soul!
This service cannot be forced on anybody, neither is it Bible bashing! I just want people to know that I am here if a need arises.
Whether you (or someone you know) are going through a crisis and need to talk, they may be dealing with a bereavement, or simply seeking answers to life’s many questions feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org). You do not have to be a Christian to speak with me, I am here for anyone and everyone that needs a chat, as someone that understands the sport.
Sports people are real people to, with real needs that by God’s Grace I hope to support.
Many boxers share my faith in Jesus Christ and often pray before they are in a ring as part of their preparation and many give God the Glory in their victory.
Here is such an example from the pound for pound Champ Andre Ward after his close points decisions against Kovalev.