Boxing as a path to change for young offenders in Colombia

10/02/2017 – INDER Alcaldía de Medellín, a Fight for Peace Global Network partner, is a local government institution dedicated to promoting sport, physical activity and recreation in support of bringing about positive change in people’s lives.

Among INDER’s tailored programmes, one – Boxvivencia – uses boxing as part of a sport for development strategy in the testing context of Medellin’s Carlos Lleras Restrepo Youth Offender Centre. The project began following INDER’s participation on the Fight for Peace Global Alumni Programme training week staged at the Rio de Janeiro Academy in April 2015.

“In Rio de Janeiro we learned about the interesting work of Fight for Peace through combat sports, within an holistic approach for integral development of young people living in highly complex contexts. Based on the experiences and listening to the testimonies of beneficiaries and coaches, we decided to replicate the programme with our own methodologies”, explained INDER’s Sports for Coexistence Coordinator.

Boxvivencia is offered to young people who are in the last stages of their reintegration into society. The programme sessions, which involve both boxing training and personal development, are delivered twice a week to four different groups and currently reach at total of 70 young people.

“The process has proved that boxing is a hook to attract young people, it allows them to identify skills, capacities and options for their future; strengthens their determination and allows them to see the other as a subject for coexistence and not as an object of violence”, added the Head of the Carlos Lleras Restrepo Youth Offenders Centre.

An evaluation of the first year of Boxvivencia is testament to the success of the programme with 80% of participants believing that boxing has helped them to be more disciplined and self-controlled, 70% reporting feeling more respect for others and 78.5% of participants noting that they had improved relationship with their families having participated on the programme.

One of the programme’s participants noted the changes to their life since taking up boxing: “Here you learn control because we become stronger and stronger and we learn to recognise that we can hurt others if we fight. Since I started training, I haven’t got into fights.”