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Home > Boxing and substance use rehabilitation: building skills and capacities in disadvantaged communities.

Morton, Sarah and O'Brien, Karl and O'Reilly, Laura (2019) Boxing and substance use rehabilitation: building skills and capacities in disadvantaged communities. Community Development Journal , 54 , (3) , pp. 541-559.

URL: https://academic.oup.com/cdj/advance-article/doi/1...


This paper considers the role of the boxing training and mentoring in the context of the change processes for participants engaging in a twenty-week community based integrated fitness and education substance use rehabilitation programme.

 

The study took place in an urban community in Dublin, Ireland within the context of neo-liberal systems of regulation and control of community based organizations. Focus group interviews with participants were carried out at midway (n = 17) and on completion (n = 14) of the programme and with practitioners (n = 8) midway and on completion of the programme. Transcripts were coded and themes associated with the participants’ experience of the programme and its interface with the wider community context: building relationships; physical and emotional impact of boxing skills training; boxing skills training and gender; understanding the mentoring role.

 

The positive attributes associated with the ‘boxer’ identity has the potential to provide an alternative to ‘the addict’ identity within socially disadvantaged communities. It is argued that the boxing gym, particularly when nested within a range of educational and emotional supports, can become an empowering setting within a community. The coaching approach has the potential to challenge gendered norms in relation to sport and fitness, while also supporting participants to utilize their physical bodies with intent and focus. The inclusion of programme mentors is an important consideration for substance use rehabilitation programmes, especially within communities characterized by exclusion and isolation.

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