“When I’m in the ring, I feel alive,” says Dean.
Dean’s life took a tragic turn when he was hit by the crushing news of the sudden death of his brother, best friend and fellow boxer Gavin. “We grew up loving boxing together, always competed against each other, and then Gavin took his own life,” Dean remembers. “Going back to the boxing club wasn’t the same, because of the bond we had with each other in the gym.”
“I got back into the sport by helping out with the youngsters,” says Dean. “It relit a fire and I started boxing again, I missed the adrenaline. Boxing makes me feel positive and motivated.”
Sean Fitzpatrick, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, has experienced first-hand the positive impact Active Communities Network is having on young people in Northern Ireland. He has also watched Dean grow from a programme participant to a volunteer coach.
“Dean is an absolute inspiration to us all. Mental health is an issue which impacts everyone in society, none more so than the young people involved in the programmes Laureus supports around the world. That impact is exacerbated due to the challenges, isolation and uncertainty brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.“Programmes like Active Communities Network and role models like Dean are crucial in today’s society, as they use sport to help young people build confidence and resilience in the face of difficulties in life.”