The Lafone Cup is the annual Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Amateur Boxing Championship. London’s police officers are split into five areas who battle it out for the famous trophy and the honour of telling their colleagues they won ‘The Lafone’, which has been running for over a hundred years. I’ve spent the last few months preparing the ‘5Area’ team to compete.
Most of the boxers taking part are complete novices having never fought before, some never even stepped into a ring. These are my favourite boxers to coach, a blank canvas, no bad habits to correct and keen to learn. Their first experience of boxing involves a female coach and this normalises the role of women in the sport for them. Also, I am a serving Police Officer, I won a national title and boxed for England while fitting training around demanding shifts, overtime and eating whatever I could get my hands on at 3am during a night shift. I started in their shoes by winning the Lafone Cup. They know I’ve been there and I felt they respected my input on things such as weight, nerves and time management because of this. I’ve helped out with sparring new police boxers before but this was my first year coaching a team and I found it so rewarding. I’m excited for the boxers as I know that if good enough they will have some of the opportunities I had when I boxed for the Police.
I was asked to assist the coaches from 5Area which covers south west London. My club boxers will always come first so I wasn’t able to volunteer as much of my time as I’d have liked but I used the opportunity to benefit both sets of boxers, combining training on certain occasions giving them extra sessions to attend and a variety of sparring partners. The MPS lost its boxing gym in the recent budget cuts and I arranged a ‘long term loan’ of the boxing ring to my club, London Community Boxing. This benefited both parties, the gym now has two rings, perfect for hosting squad training sessions and sparring and the Police now have a space they are welcome to train and a good working relationship with the club which has led to some exciting community initiatives. I feel my police boxers had a massive advantage by integrating into the club. Time in the ring getting used to ropes and corners, coaches that are also judges reinforcing rules and highlighting fouls and even a trainee referee and his mentor, an International level referee, in the ring with them. The boxers knew they were lucky and were grateful, putting in a 110% effort and making us coaches happy.
The finals of the Lafone Cup were held on April 21st at the Indigo at the O2 in the Millennium Dome. Our boxers made history by being the first Olympic style boxers to compete at the venue. The stakes were high, not only were they boxing for the Lafone Cup but for a place at the World Police and Fire Games that will be held in Los Angeles this summer. The night was a huge success and one of the most enjoyable I’ve had as a coach. It was also nice to see a good representation of female coaches with five in total. Our team won the cup and one of our boxers was awarded ‘best boxer’ a testament to the effort they all put in and the dedication of the coaching team who devoted hours and hours of their own time. It was certainly a night to remember, one that made me realise how much I love being a coach, how much I love the sport and how rewarding it can be.
Bio: Rachel Bower, is a boxing coach at London Community Boxing. A former National Champion and England representative she now coaches Novice to Elite Amateur boxers at club level, the London Female Squad and the Metropolitan Police boxing team. She also holds a position on the England Boxing Coach Education Sub Committee.
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