Boxing in Haringey

Surgery as usual in the morning. (If you are a new reader and wondering – no, I’m not a doctor in my spare time! This is when I have a series of meetings with residents who raise their individual issues with me. Normally it’s a particular problem they need help with, but also too there are people who want to meet me to raise a wider issue or concern).

This is followed by meeting with the Chief Executive of the Whittington, David Sloman. I am dreading hearing that the ruthless job-letting next door at the Royal Free is to be repeated at the Whittington. But so far so good…

I rush on to open World Tuberculosis event – which is a really good event. TB used to stalk our communities before the war. In fact my mother’s fiancé died of it. Nowadays it is curable and treatable – but back then it was touch and go. Clearly, as I exist, my mother met and married someone else – and as time went on TB became a thing of the past.

But now it is rearing its ugly head again, particularly in London – and particularly among communities where deprivation is high and among vulnerable people who have HIV/AIDS, cancer, alcoholism, etc. I remember when I was on the Health Committee at the London Assembly we looked into the rise of TB in London. The main findings then were that people, once they felt better and were back out in the community, stopped taking their medication before they should have. Anyway – the good news in Haringey and Enfield, is that treatment is free and that there are really good and committed teams working in the hospitals and the communities together to tackle this rising problem.

I have had to give my speech to the TB event in evening dress as I have to literally run off as soon as I finish speaking to what is one of my most favourite events of the year. This is the Annual Haringey Amateur Boxing Match where the Haringey Boxers fight an invited club or organisation at a proper charity dinner where funds are raised to continue funding the boxing club. It was originally set up by Stephen James (two police commanders of Haringey ago). He is still involved and the two commanders since, Stephen Bloomfield and now Simon O’Brien are also carrying on the enthusiasm and commitment.

I know- boxing has a bad name. But this is not about two men slugging it out in 15 rounds without head protection. This is well trained, well-monitored, well-refereed young people who fight three 3 minute rounds with proper head gear and so on. And the work done with kids from the most deprived areas gives a great pathway out of street life.

Before the dinner kicks off – Simon O’Brien and I go through to the boxers dressing rooms for photographs – and they give me boxing gloves to put on and pose as if I am fighting. Not sure about political correctness! But I am a fan of this type of boxing. I enjoy it. I think it does a lot of good in the communities that have the most challenges. The police have done a fantastic job with this initiative – and I understand that there are around five other boroughs starting or looking to start similar activities.

The dinner is served – and then it is on with the show. They sure come out fighting and the energy and the talent and skill are extraordinary. The fifth contest does make my jaw drop open as it is two girls fighting. I know – it’s an equal world – but it was the first time I had seen girls fight (outside of Million Dollar Baby – and that hardly had a happy ending!). They were as energetic and tough as the boys – and it really is an equality that I hadn’t expected.

I presented two of the winners with there trophies. Up close after a bout – you can see the exertion in the buckets of sweat and depth of chest heaving. Quite an extraordinary sport.