Boxer Audley Harrison gives inspirational talk to Brent students

Sportsman talks about the importance of education

A top sportsman gave an inspirational speech on the importance of education to a group of students this morning (Thursday).

Audley Harrison, a former Olympic gold medallist and European champion, spoke to a packed assembly hall at Copland Community School in Cecil Avenue, Wembley.

The 39-year-old, who spent his childhood in the Stonebridge Estate urged children to enjoy their education while they can and proclaimed himself as ‘the poster boy for what an education can do’.

The talk formed part of the schools Black History Month celebrations where pupils and teachers also dressed up as influential black people telling the audience about their lives and performing songs.

Speaking exclusively to the Times, Mr Harrison said: “Education is free at this stage and is something that should be enjoyed and not wasted.”

The Olympic gold medal winner who moved out of the borough when he was 12 spoke of how he turned his life after he was expelled from two schools as a teenager.

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He said: “I had a tough upbringing, I came from a broken home and that is something that is common across Brent.

“Brent is a tough borough to grow up in but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to make something of your life.”

The Boxer, who now lives in the States, said a spell in Feltham young offenders institute at the age of 19 made him realise that he wanted to succeed.

He said: “I remember my dad sitting me down and saying, what you are you doing with your life? I told him I was going to be a professional sportsman.

“I wanted to make sure I turned my life around, so I went out and studied to make sure I got to where I wanted to be.”

He undertook a degree in Sports Science and Business Management at Brunel University.

He said: “Without my degree I wouldn’t have been able to get to where I am,

“I wouldn’t be able to employ my own team and make my own deals.”

Speaking about the controversial library closures he also pledged his support to the campaigners and branded Labour ‘short-sighted’ for their decision.

Brent council says they need to close the libraries to save �1m, however Mr Harrison said that decision didn’t make sense.

He said: “I couldn’t believe it when I found out, in America libraries are an extension of the school and that should be the same here.

“I am 100 per cent behind the appeal, you shouldn’t have to suffer a loss to gain something it should be a win win situation”