Champion boxer working with police to stop gang crime in Clapton
- Credit: Philip Sharkey/TGS Photo
James Cook MBE is working with the Met to build relations with hard-to-reach youngsters in Clapton. The Gazette gave the champion boxer a ring
A former champion boxer is working with police to help deliver the knock-out blow to gang violence in Clapton.
James Cook has been working with troubled kids in the area since 1980, when it was known as the “murder mile”.
He took over the Pedro Youth Club in Rushmore Road back in 1993 while he was UK and European super-middleweight champion, a title he held from 1990 to 1994.
James, 57, was rewarded for his youth work with an MBE in 2007, and has now been signed up by the Met to help them engage with the hard-to-reach youngsters through the Hackney Independent Advisory Group.
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He explained: “I speak to the kids in gangs every day. There’s a problem about once a week, which is when we step in.
“If we see something brewing in the area I will go and try and keep the calm.
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“Then we meet quarterly with the police and discuss how things are with them and tell them what they are doing wrong. You’ve got to be honest with them.
“If there’s a gang of young people causing trouble and police come with an attitude towards them, they don’t care if you are the law – they will think: ‘We outnumber you.’
“There was a time before I was here when police weren’t allowed in the Pedro but now we play football against them. They are getting to know the community.”
James met borough commander Simon Laurence last month, and believes his approachable demeanour is helping improve the once-frosty relationship between the younger generation and the police.
“He’s not like one of these people in power who you can’t speak to – he’s a real person you can chat to,” he explained.
But while James and the police are doing all they can to help combat gang crime, things are not looking so positive for the Pedro.
The club is in desperate need of funding so it can keep providing for the members, whose ages range from five to 70.
“We’re in an old building and we are looking for help,” said James. “We need to refurbish it and install disabled access.”
Anyone who would like to donate to the club can do so by calling 020 8985 3800.