Fight for Peace CEO, Lee Hemmings and Head of Academy, Jamie Lowe recently returned from a special visit to our sister organisation, Luta pela Paz based in Maré, Rio de Janeiro.

It was a chance for both organisations to exchange experiences, ideas and learnings after years of delivering shared methodologies and approaches to young people in our communities. We caught up with Lee to find out some of his thoughts on his time spent there: 

“I recently spent an incredible week in Rio de Janeiro with our Head of Academy in London, Jamie Lowe, and the fantastic team from our sister organisation, Luta pela Paz.

I witnessed first-hand how the Fight for Peace methodologies were developed in the favelas, and the immense challenges faced by young people living in this often misunderstood, tight-knit community.

Despite these barriers, Luta pela Paz provides truly outstanding opportunities for these children and young people.

The Luta pela Paz efforts in Rio will celebrate a 25-year anniversary in 2025, yet the enthusiasm, excitement, innovation and results are still vibrant, like a young dynamic organisation.

The Academy is thriving in Complexo de Maré, with thousands of young people from the community engaged with our boxing and martial arts programmes combined with the full range of education, employability, youth leadership and support services. This unique ‘Five Pillars’ approach is based on outcomes of our shared global efforts.

Despite the geographical and distance and communal differences, the work and atmosphere is identical to London with all staff and participating members driven by the same values that guide and underpin all areas of our work and support our strong culture.

Lee and Jamie with the mighty Luta pela Paz boxing coaches

During my time in Brazil, there was a reception at the British Consul-General in Rio de Janeiro to recognise the efforts of Luta pela Paz and kindly welcome us to Rio. Founder Luke Dowdney and the Youth Leadership group at Luta pela Paz shared the history of the charity and the transitional story that led to Fight for Peace being established in the UK in 2007, along with some inspiring stories with a distinguished audience of other consulates representing countries from across the globe.

This trip further cemented the strong bond between our two organisations. With our missions and ambitions aligned, time was spent mapping out how we will continue to work hand in hand, sharing methodologies that we deliver first-hand in our Academies and globally through our alliance and collective partnership programs.”

Luta pela Paz is where the Fight for Peace story began in 2000, when founder Luke Downdey began providing free boxing and martial arts sessions to young people living in the favelas of Maré, providing a safe space to learn new skills and build community and confidence.

In 2007, Luke brought his work to London with the opening of our Newham Academy in North Woolwich – and 17 years later, the bond between both organisations is still thriving, with a shared methodology and history which continues to support young people to reach their full potential.

Lee and Jamie pose with young champions and Fight for Peace founder, Luke Downdey

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