Learning From Your Mistakes: It’s Boxing Evolution!

boxingBy Ezio Prapotnich - There are lessons you learn in the ring that you can apply to your life. Pain and fear are the same for all of us, but the way we choose to deal with them makes us different from one another. And, the only satisfaction that is greater than overcoming an obstacle is to use your experience to help somebody else to do the same.

Boxing Evolution is a personal development company, based in Slough, offering boxing coaching, personal training, fitness classes, life coaching, enterprise training and workshops for everybody, with a particular focus on helping young adults involved in gangs and crime to get out of trouble and fulfil their potential through the use of positive role models and techniques suited to the individual needs of each student. It is a project born out of the personal experience of 27 years old founder Matthew Flavell, from Maidenhead, who runs it full time. He graciously agreed to open up and explain how boxing helped him find a way out of his personal problems and inspired him to help others..

EASTSIDEBOXING: At one point in your life, you found yourself involved with gangs and crime, and had trouble with the police. What personal circumstances lead you down that path?

MATTHEW FLAVELL: Many of my challenges began at my senior school around year 7. I was a very small child for my age and a late developer. On top of this, I have what is known as A.D.H.D (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder). I was diagnosed with this condition aged 14, which was very late. My parents advised my school of this, but due to lack of understanding, it made little difference.

I was hyperactive and I lacked concentration, organizational skills and the ability to understand the consequences of my actions. I also had other problems such as emotional reactivity, impulsivity, low social skills and awareness. As so many with A.D.H.D., I struggled with self-esteem and self-confidence. This made my time at school very hard. I was always disrupting lessons and getting into trouble and I was a very difficult student. I was also bullied mentally and physically almost every day for about 5 or 6 years. As a result, I ended up using drugs and misusing alcohol, which only caused me more problems. I also developed severe anger issues and got into fights, as a result of the bullying.

ESB: Given these premises, what legitimate urge or need were you trying to satisfy by joining a gang?

MF: I got involved in gangs to fit in, gain some ‘identity’, and to form mutual protection. They also gave me a sense of excitement and, I am not going to lie, I did also revel in the attention I would get from our actions. These were not serious hardcore gangs, like the Crips or Bloods you would find in America or even London, but still gangs nevertheless. We did some bad things, but no one died or was permanently injured. Due to this I got into a lot of trouble with the law. I knew that I needed to change before it was too late.

ESB: What made you think of boxing as way out of this?

MF: I took up boxing aged 17 in a bid to try to control my temper and sort myself out. However, it would be a while before I managed to succeed. I ended up nearly ruining my life and losing all my friends as a result of it. I eventually sunk into depression.

ESB: What benefits did you get out training?

MF: Through boxing, I ended up quitting smoking, drinking, and drugs. I found something to focus my energies on and it kept me away from trouble.

It also gave me the courage to do things like going away to university and face other fears too. I suffered from social anxiety which I was used to ease with alcohol.

ESB: Once you began to regain control of your thoughts and actions, what was the first step you decide to make to improve your personal life?

MF: I realized I needed a change of location. I went to Portsmouth University, having scraped 2 A levels. I didn’t like university, except I had a lot of free time. I decided to start up the Boxing Club, which had closed due to lack of interest.
Running the club, I discovered my true passion, which is coaching people whilst simultaneously having your own project you can work on and develop. I knew that my future career would involve these kinds of things, although at this point I didn’t know how.

The other major factor that enabled me to turn my life around was the large amount of reading I did about topics such as psychology, philosophy, spirituality, science and self-improvement. This knowledge opened my eyes to many things and enabled me to approach life in a whole different way.

ESB: All the ingredients of Boxing Evolution were there, at this point. What was the sparkle that made you mix them together?

MF: At the time, Gangs and Gun and Knife crimes had just started to become a big problem and were being discussed daily on the news. I thought that, if people had the same understanding I had gained from studying, they wouldn’t get involved in such stupid things. I started thinking about ways to make that information acceptable and receivable to the kind of people that needed it. I had noticed how humble people who were perceived to be ‘bad’ acted in the boxing gym. I truly came to understand the difference between a real person and a fake, someone who had guts and a coward. My eyes were truly opened! Then, one day, I had a flash of inspiration: boxing was the key! And, through boxing, I could impart the knowledge and wisdom required. Boxing Evolution was born!

ESB: Do you feel you got over your issues for good?

MF: There is no magic spell that suddenly changes you. It takes constant persistence, determination, and will power to change and not get drawn back into your old ways, and there are many temptations everyday. I am human and I won’t deny that relapses have occurred from time to time. However, each time I come back stronger and more determined. I keep my end goal in sight daily and that is now what I live for. NOTHING will stop me

ESB: What potential do you see on a larger scale for a system that seems to work effectively on an individual level?

MF: Boxing Evolution is not just about working with people on an individual basis, but also about working with everyone together as a community to create a better society. If we want to see real changes, we need to take into account new knowledge and developments when it comes to making decisions about how we run our education, judiciary, healthcare and political systems. Through the techniques and methods that I implement with young people, I hope to demonstrate the amazing results that are possible when people truly understand what they are actually capable of achieving. It is shocking how many communities hold literally a mass belief that nothing can be achieved and how this becomes evident in their members already at a young age. Imagine what could happen if we used these techniques on a national scale in our education system.

As Matthew’s story illustrates, there are very human and understandable reasons at the root of antisocial and self-destructive behaviour. Nevertheless, no matter how desperate the situation seems, it is the choices we make that define us and determine the final contribution we will make to our society.

For more info on Boxing Evolution schedules, classes, and contact details, visit
Matthew made his choice. Now, you make yours.

Article posted on 25.06.2010

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