As a teenager, the now 38-year-old former light heavyweight boxer is the first to admit he wasn’t the easiest to deal with. More than once, he was suspended from Hinde House Secondary School in Shiregreen. The turning point for him came when, aged 13, he entered Brendan Ingle’s boxing gym.
Today Amer is a boxing coach, working hard to give other kids the same opportunities he was lucky enough to receive. This month, Amer returned to Hinde House to share his story, as part of work being carried out in the community by The Brendan Ingle Foundation for Hate Crime Awareness Week.
Amer said: “It felt surreal presenting an assembly at the school I got suspended from.
“I talked to the kids about hate crime and all aspects of behavioural issues, as well as sharing my own personal experience and turning point in my life when Brendan signed a contract for me to get back into school. The kids asked plenty of questions.”
Amer was invited to get involved in the project by the Brendan Ingle Foundation, which was set up to pass on the work that the late Brendan Ingle MBE did in supporting the local community.
Sophie Harrison, the organisation’s coaching and foundation worker, said: “Quite a lot of our funding for various projects comes from South Yorkshire Police's Safer Sheffield, and so we’ve had meetings with the police and the council, which is where the issue of hate crime and its local impact was brought to our attention.
“As an organisation, we work closely with local schools, like Hinde House, helping to teach local children social skills, particularly those on the verge of expulsion, and at risk of criminality and anti-social behaviour. We’re dedicated to building a great relationship with these kids, and to continue to provide a safe place for all.
“Amer went to that school over 20 years ago, and it was so powerful for him to be able to talk to these kids about his own experiences, getting into trouble, and how he managed to turn everything around.
”Brendan spent his adult life making bad kids good, and good kids into better kids. The foundation is striving to build a bigger, safer, and kinder community.
“Hate crimes in the UK are on the rise, with a 17 per cent increase in the last year alone. We know that Brendan firmly believed regardless of your background everyone had a place in the Ingle gym, as long as you showed respect for yourself, the people around you.”
Munif Zia, Hinde House’s associate principal, said: “Our pupils are lucky to have such an inspirational and relatable role model like ‘Killa’ who is not only a former pupil of Hinde House School but also a firefighter and invaluable member of the community. It's a great honour and privilege to be working with the Brendan Ingle Foundation and Ingle Boxing Gym.”