Chennai

Young coach trains children in Mylapore to excel in the boxing ring

Boxer-turned-boxing-coach K. Vinod, known in his circles as Paul James, has found a silver lining in the pandemic. When Nageshwara Rao Park in Mylapore becomes out of bounds for him and his students to practice boxing, he switches to virtual classes.

In the last eight months, thanks to the benevolence of the management of SMT. Malathi Matriculation School in Mylapore, Paul has another venue where he trains children from underprivileged communities in boxing.

Twenty-five-year-old Paul James works as a physical education teacher at CSI St. Ebba’s Matriculation Higher Secondary School. After quitting competitive boxing, he wanted to help youngsters step into the sport he so loves, so he took to coaching at the age of 22.

“I received considerable encouragement from my mentors and so I wanted give back to the sport,” says Paul. He started learning to punch a boxing bag when in class X at Santhome Higher Secondary School. The physical education teacher, “Derek sir” motivated him to take up any sport and that is how it all began. “My brothers are also into sports, one is into football and the other into martial arts,” points out Paul, who was first coached by Tamilselvan.

Paul worked hard to make a mark. “It took me five years to enter State-level boxing and another few years to reach the national level,” says Paul, who participated in the heavy weight category.

His neighbourhood was the target of his social outreach.

“I stay at PM Nagar in Mylapore where football has been the most played sport but children lacked discipline and there was none to coach them,” says Paul.

Paul James, boxer and coach

Paul James, boxer and coach  

So getting students interested in boxing was not easy.

Santosh, an eight-year-old boy, was his first student. “He was falling into bad ways and I convinced his parents that I would change him by training him in boxing,” he says. Soon word spread and Paul started with five students at Nageshwara Rao Park. In the mornings, they do endurance and warm-up exercises and the evening hours are reserved for skill-based classes like padding, partner padding and control.

“I now have 50 girls and boys learning from me; the under-privileged are given free classes and those who can afford the fee are charged a nominal amount,” says Paul, who runs the Mylai Boxing Academy. Coach Ganesh Singh was another inspiration for him as he was also offering free classes to students.

Paul says he talks to parents before enrolling a student. “Academics is equally important, so I tell parents they must attend school and the kind of support he expects from them.” Paul says many of the students have won laurels at different competitions.

Luck smiled on him last year as Paul was looking for a space to offer coaching. Malathi Matriculation School, which has not opened its gates due to the pandemic, agreed to turn its stage into a boxing ring.

“The ring is the most important for training and a 23 sq.ft space came as a Godsend as most of the children stay close-by,” says Paul. The place has professional punching bags, slipping ball, weights, cross-fit training equipment and mirrors for shadow practice. Gloves are part of what makes expensive paraphernalia and he manages to get them with the help of friends and well-wishers.

Paul is proud of the young girls in his academy who are more promising than the boys. He says: “I want them to become another Mary Kom.”


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Printable version | Sep 28, 2021 2:19:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/young-coach-trains-children-in-mylapore-to-excel-in-the-boxing-ring/article34983510.ece

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