World boxing champ reveals his plans to help Doncaster kids

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He's a familiar face.

Many people will recognise him as the Doncaster tough-guy of the boxing ring, whose punching has terrified opponents across the world.

New youth sessions run by the new Jamie McDonnell Foundatation, have been set up by world champion boxer Jamie McDonnel. Picture: Scott Merrylees

New youth sessions run by the new Jamie McDonnell Foundatation, have been set up by world champion boxer Jamie McDonnel. Picture: Scott Merrylees

But this summer, youngsters in Stainforth have seen the other side of Jamie McDonnell.

They have met the Jamie who has set up a charitable foundation and is getting involved at the grass roots level.

Jamie officially launched the Jamie McDonnell Foundation at Bawtry Hall last month, at a black tie event.

Within a couple of days, he was out taking part in a school holidays activities programme it is running at the multi use games area in Stainforth, just behind the adult education centre.

Jamie said his new foundation had piloted some of its activities at a number of schools before the summer holidays, before starting the scheme which has seen them out at the site next to Church Road every day.

The foundation has already received backing from a number of organisations. The BBC Children in Need is also funding it to run activities in Stainforth Youth Centre. The work it is carrying out on the outside games area is run in partnership with the Doncaster based Expect Youth organisation.

The activities that Jamie's foundation have been running this week have been run by professional coaches, and the foundation's manager, Tom Gilbert, himself a former amateur boxer, from Sprotbrough, said as many as 30 had attended some of the sessions.

For Jamie's part, he said he had been thoroughly enjoying taking part.

"I've loved it. I've been joining in and playing football with them. I used to think I was really good at football, but I was wrong! I've been going in goal.

"There has been one boy who has been so keen to take part that he gets two buses to get here from Intake. I'd like us to be running three or four of these across Doncaster so that people don't have to travel that far.

"The kids have been brilliant and we've got to know them."

The foundation was first contacted about running activities in Stainforth after Stainforth4All manager Phil Bedford met Jamie and Tom at a Doncaster Free Press round table discussion on youth activities.

It led to the activities which have been running there over the summer.

Grandmother Paula Collett , from Hatfield, has been taking her grandchildren Brynn, aged 10, and Gray, aged nine to the sessions.

She said: "It's been fantastic. If they're not coming here they may be stuck on the computer games console.

"But seeing them here, they've been playing bulldogs, they've had the cones out to do football skills, and they've been doing tag rugby.

"Jamie has been here all week, so it's not just been a case of him putting his name on it, and they've been inclusive for kids with disabilities. The kids have been asking to be in his team, and he's been really good with the kids. There's not been anything like this in Hatfield."

Jamie said "There are things I'd like to do. I'm a father, and I'd also really like to build parks - I've been to the parks with my wife and child and not been able to find anywhere with a swing."

Major gym planned

Former boxing champion Jamie McDonnell has drawn up a plan of how he would like to roll his new foundation out across Doncaster.

His ultimate aim is to set up a boxing gym, and he and Tom have set out a seven point plan which also includes getting the holiday programmes running and and engaging with existing boxing clubs, and schools.

Tom said most of the items in the plan had already now been achieved, such as the holiday scheme which has been running in Stainforth.

Jamie said: "I'm a boxer, and boxing will feature in what we do as a foundation. We'd like to open a gym in Doncaster, and I would love to produce another Doncaster world champion through what we do. But we also be running other sports.

"We want to do it properly so that is is something that Doncaster can be really proud of. We'd like to be able to brings schools in to get involved too.

Tom added: "We would like a central hub with satellites around it. Things are moving but is a case of when it happens. We have a few options for possible venues. We want to be careful that we don't strangle what is already out there though., and we have a meeting in the pipeline to discuss the plan."

Jamie is still hoping to regain his world title in the future and plans another high profile fight in the future, but is using the time he has between bouts to work on his foundation.