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A BOXING gym is an upper-cut above the rest, thanks to new flooring donated by Broadstairs MOT Centre.

Garage owner Simon Hooper, made the donation and helped lay the flooring after seeing the positive benefit O’Neill’s Boxing Gym had on young people using its facilities.

Trainer John O’Neill set up the Ramsgate gym in the last few months with ambitions to inspire and focus young boys and girls and help improve their discipline and fitness.

The pair pulled no punches replacing the worn out, damaged carpet. The knock-out grey floor tiles have transformed the space which is used by both young people and adults each week and is more practical for users.

Simon said: “I have witnessed the time and effort John dedicates to training young people at the gym. Not only does he inspire them to train hard and have passion and focus for what they are doing but the boxing also helps instil discipline and helps them to grow in confidence. He inspires them and their parents with his determination and having overcome a traumatic brain injury himself, he is an inspiration to not let life get you down.

“I think what he does here is fantastic for the community and I am always keen to give back to people who are trying their best in the local area to inspire the younger generation and provide support. He has overcome adversity and is giving something back to the next generation.”

Father-of-two John (45), from Broadstairs, was boxing clever until a traumatic brain injury more than five years ago had a profound effect on his life and well-being. Until then he had spent more than 15 years training young boxers in Thanet and south London and ran boxing gyms in Birchington and Margate. But, following a life-changing bleed on the brain, John admits to feeling suicidal once he left hospital because of inadequate support and minimal rehabilitation.

His friends rallied around and encouraged him to return to training in a bid to improve his mental well-being. The gym was being used by another trainer who said John could use it to aid his recovery.

John said: “I had memory loss and was struggling with my own battles and anxiety. When I got myself better, I noticed there were many older men, my age, struggling themselves. So rather than return to training at a high level, like I was used to, I tried to come back into boxing to help people deal with their own problems, and bring people together as a collective group of guys. The other chap left and I took over. I saw men struggling with depression and anxiety and physical disability, and through my own struggle of recovering from a traumatic brain injury and navigating my way through life, I thought this place would help others.

“I started this gym to help those that are not as fortunate as ourselves. With some of the guys that came, their sons and daughters then wanted to come for the challenge and to train.

“It shows the young people that there are those who are doing good, even if the bigger society is not. The children who come here are well behaved and sadly, they don’t really get anything. If they were naughty then the ‘system’ helps them but this is a place that can inspire them and teach them discipline. It shows them that there are people who work hard and give their time for them for free and in years to come I hope they pay it forward too. They are sporty but coming here helps keep the mind active and focused and joins all different people together.” John and the friends who rallied around him in the early days of his recovery still use the gym as a place to catch up and be sociable.