Muf Akay: All Stars Boxing Academy
Muf is the Manager of All Stars Boxing Gym a youth club and boxing gym established 45 years ago. A registered charity providing boxing training and other leisure time pursuits to children and adults in the interest of social welfare so as to improve the conditions of life for those young people.
1. What is your connection to Paddington Central?
Paddington Central are a fantastic supporter of our charity All Stars Youth Club and the work we do in the community, donating much needed fitness equipment and money.
2. How does boxing help to promote good mental health?
The link between exercise and mental health is already established, and like any form of physical exercise the more active you are, the more endorphins your body releases giving you that feel-good feeling during and after workouts. Boxing is great for relieving stress and tension because punching helps relieve muscle tension that builds up when someone is stressed, and boxing training helps with improving focus bringing clarity of mind with it. Boxing can be empowering, helping to build self-confidence, self-esteem and is great in anger management enabling people to better cope with challenging situations in their lives. Many of the mental skills learnt in boxing can be positively used outside of the ring.
3. Can you provide a little bit about your background?
I was born in Accra, Ghana and came to the UK at the age of five with my family. Grew up on a council estate on the Harrow Road in West London and went to a state school. I found school work easy as I tend to pick things up fairly quickly. I started boxing, along with my late elder brother, when i was 10 years old trained by our father who had by that time started All Stars on the landing of the sixth floor of our block of flats because the local youth/boxing club owner said he “didn’t want too many black boys in his club”. I took over the management of All Stars 6 years ago when my father fell ill and suffered a stroke, he sadly passed away last year.
4. What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month is an important platform for people of colour, such as myself to have our voices heard, to recogonise buried histories, for learning, self-discovery and international recognition of value, talent and contribution we as a people have made and continue to make on a daily basis.
5. Would you like to make any comments on the BLM Movement?
Black Lives Matter as a movement for equality and against racism is important because peaceful pressure from the people is the only way injustice and inequality that still persists today will be addressed. Things have improved a lot from when I was young.
6. What change would you like to see?
An absence of Black history being taught in schools ultimately leads to an absence in our identity and a lack of understanding for our social norms and constructs, so certainly black history being taught in schools would be an important positive change. A focus on the achievements of the many successful black people, the integrity, leadership, and determination throughout history could help instill positive role models and show the black youth that we are all people of importance.
7. What does Representation mean to you?
Representation to me means opportunity, the creation of environments, not just workplaces that understand diversity issues and celebrate differences, enabling anyone to participate, to be a part of that organisation on an equal basis.
8. Have you been surprised at anything lately?
I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people of all colours attending the Black Lives Matter protests Worldwide, i was very surprised especially in America where racism is far worse than here in the UK.
9. Do you have an unusual talent?
Yes, un uncanny ability to absorb information quickly.
10. Do you have a favourite charity you wish more people knew about?
Yes, All Stars Youth Club the Charity I manage, we are a registered charity providing boxing training and other leisure time pursuits to children and adults in the interest of social welfare so as to improve the conditions of life for those young people. We also provide Mentoring programmes offering support to disadvantaged young people and families at risk or directly involved in youth violence and crime, working closely with local authorities and local services including youth offending and social care.
11. What inspires you?
I take inspiration from many things but challenges inspire me, to do better, to always push myself to overcome obstacles in my way.
12. What are you most proud of?
Winning the 6 year legal battle against the landlords of the gym, who tried to force All Stars out of the building we have occupied for over 35 years so they could sell the building to property developers.
I’m also extremely proud my two sons, the elder one works in marketing, he’s currently “working from home” in Croatia and my younger son who is in his 3rd year studying Marine Biology at Portsmouth University.