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Jonathan boxing

Posted18.10.23

Jonathan

A lot can change in the space of a year, and Jonathan understands this more than most. From a chance encounter in borrowed boxing gear to preparing for the Battersea marathon, his journey is nothing short of inspirational. Battling personal demons, discrimination, and homelessness, Jonathan discovered the healing power of both boxing and running. But this story is more than just physical fitness; it’s a demonstration of resilience, self-discovery and an ambitious dream of becoming a national boxing champion whilst giving back to his community.

“One day, I decided to join a friend for a boxing session, not having the right gear. He lent me his clothes, and I decided to return only when properly equipped. It took some time, but I managed to acquire the necessary equipment using my benefits. Once ready, I started boxing.

What really motivated me to start running was a tough loss in a boxing match a few months earlier. I lost because of inadequate fitness. My opponent had trained harder and exploited my exhaustion during the fight. Watching the video, it was clear I needed better fitness. So, I decided to run every day to improve my fitness. It was challenging at first, but I learned to listen to my body and push myself.

Running became more than physical training; it became a mental and emotional outlet. I’ve had mental health challenges, including depression and PTSD. Running became a healthier way to cope with my emotions. Instead of smoking weed to numb my feelings, I started running whenever I felt overwhelmed, angry, or sad. It allowed me to channel that energy positively.”

Jonathan was born in Zambia and moved to Dublin when he was eight, where he was often the only black person among his friends. Despite provocations and discrimination, he remained committed to self-discipline. After the death of his grandmother, he sought therapy to manage intense emotions. He used his Universal Credit to pay for anger management therapy to handle spontaneous reactions to challenging situations. That equipped him with tools, but deeper challenges persisted. He left his job and became homeless before moving into one of our services.

“When I moved here, I needed time to adjust and heal from past experiences. I’d gone through a tough period, including spending time in jail when I was 18. That period in jail gave me a space to reflect and take a break from the hectic pace of life. It wasn’t something I’d want to relive, but it did offer me a chance to reassess my life.

Boxing became a way to channel my anger constructively. It was challenging to control my anger, given the repressed emotions and experiences. Boxing provided an outlet and a chance to learn how to manage my anger.

I initially stopped boxing briefly and nearly went back to my old ways, so I resumed my training. My coaches often emphasised that being a bigger man meant having tough conversations with yourself, even if it made you feel vulnerable. Therapy, addressing potential PTSD, played a role in my healing. I’ve been proactive in understanding and addressing my past’s impact on my mental well-being.

Jonathan’s dreams are ambitious, with the goal of becoming a national boxing champion. He aims to inspire others to turn to boxing as a positive outlet for their emotions and aggression. He firmly believes that patience, hard work, and guidance from the right people can help individuals overcome their past and realise their goals.

“In this new phase of my life, I’m grateful for the stability I’ve found. It’s the longest I’ve stayed in one place, allowing me to explore my potential fully. I’ve stopped rushing into things and learned to be patient. I’ve achieved some personal milestones, like getting my driver’s license, which took me a long time. I now understand the importance of slowing down, taking my time, and making thoughtful decisions.

I’m making the most of the support and opportunities here. And I try to share this perspective with others: focus on what you’re good at, pursue your passions, and if you truly want something, you’ll find a way to get it. There’s a lot of support and many opportunities here if you choose to take them. It’s a blessing for someone like me, and I’m grateful for it.

The marathon is a personal challenge for me. I’ve always wanted to test my fitness and endurance, and I’m feeling fit and healthy now, so why not give it a go? And as for raising funds for Evolve, it’s a cause I believe in. I’ve seen the impact of organisations like Evolve first-hand. So, when I had the chance to raise money for Evolve, I thought, why not? It’s a way to give back and make a difference.”

To donate to Jonathan’s JustGiving page click here.

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