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Berlin, Germany - October 17, 2012
Former heavyweight boxer Axel Schulz was the special guest at the Laureus-supported KICK im Boxring project in Berlin yesterday as he came to see first hand how his sport is changing young lives in the German capital.
Schulz, the Laureus Ambassador once nicknamed the ‘gentle giant’ during his boxing career, took the time to give the young people at the project, most aged in their early to mid-teens, some tips and to referee some sparring contests.
Speaking ringside as a few young boxing enthusiasts showed off their sparring skills, Schulz said: “These young people, these children are our future. And the best way to teach discipline and respect, I think, is through sport.”
The Berlin project is based in an area called Neukolln; one of the capital’s most underprivileged parts.
Compounding this problem is the fact that Neukolln, which counts in its populace a large percentage of people from Turkish and Arabic backgrounds, is troubled by inter-community tension.
And talking to one young coach here, it is clear that such issues are at the forefront of what the project is trying to tackle.
21 year old coach Philip, who has been a passionate boxer since the age of 10, told Laureus.com about this work. He said: “The kids aren’t here to learn about fighting for themselves, they are learning about what it means to be a team.
“They are learning about people from different cultures, different nations so they can learn integration. It works because, here, everyone has one language…
“And that language is boxing.”