Boxing club founder up for BBC award
PUBLISHED: 16:51 15 December 2010
THE founder of All Stars Boxing Club has been shortlisted for the ‘Unsung Hero’ honour at this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.
A panel selected 75-year-old Isola Akay as winner of the London regional award, and he now stands a chance of securing the national title at Sunday’s annual BBC contest.
Akay, who lives in Kilburn, set up the All Stars gym in 1975 – initially running classes from the living room of his flat – and the club has since developed into one of the most successful in London.
Under his guidance, and with the help of a team of volunteers, All Stars – now based at Harrow Road, Paddington – have nurtured several regional, national and European champions.
Over the years, some of the world’s best-known boxers have also trained there, including Mike Tyson, Frank Bruno, Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton.
All Stars have also played a pivotal role within the community, providing a structure and discipline for youngsters who might otherwise be tempted into gang culture, knife crime and drug abuse.
With the backing of the capital’s mayor Boris Johnson, Akay also set up the annual pan-London Mayor’s Cup tournament, which has been running since 2008.
Akay, who still works at the club every weekday, and also at weekends, was presented with an engraved glass bowl for winning the London Unsung Hero award.
He said: “To have won the London regional award is a great honour for me, but more importantly for the club. The young men and women who come here make All Stars the special place that it is.”
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