Boxing Clever

How One Alternative Provision School for Excluded Teenagers Used
Traditional Teaching, Personal Relationships & Sport to Fight Gangs

By Tom Ogg
December 2012
Distributed by Coronet Books
ISBN: 9781906837433
211 pages
$23.50 Paper original

Boxing Clever is Tom Ogg's account of teaching teenagers at the London Boxing Academy Community Project (LBACP) in Tottenham, North London, who had been expelled from school. The aim of the project was to make use of the strong relationships that boxing coaches have with wayward young men. The principal of the LBACP was Chris Hall, a boxing coach of 30 years' standing. The school was built around Chris's mantra: 'rules without relationships ain't worth toffee'. The book explores this and how Chris's principles of honesty, realism and kindness guided his work. It describes how boxing as a sport was uniquely suited to foster maturity in the students. It addresses why boxers, despite often coming from very tough backgrounds, saw the boxing community as a hub of moral improvement and why this meant boxers were able to connect with the students where others had failed.

The book captures the brutal reality of life on the streets for young black boys in poor areas of London such as Tottenham, where the summer riots of 2011 began. The students had to deal with gangs, 'postcode wars', drugs and family dysfunction. Many also struggled with illiteracy and an inability to sit quietly for more than a few moments. The book describes how Chris and Tom, from very different backgrounds, worked together to provide these students with an education, despite the problems. They visited students' families in their homes and went to court to help students when they were charged with criminal offences. They built a behaviour-management system ('the points system'), and took them on trips to Oxford University and the ballet. This is the story of Tom Ogg's baptism of fire, fresh from university, teaching the unteachable.


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