PZ: How did you get into boxing?
NT: My father (Kelvyn Travis) was a boxer and then became a boxing coach. He ended up being the Team GB National coach.
Growing up, me and my brother were always in and around gyms and it was a natural progression for me really. We never had to worry about childcare, because we were always at the gym with my dad!
Up to about the age of 17 I was playing boxing as opposed to taking it seriously. It wasn’t until I turned 18 and headed to Fitzroy Lodge in London and started training with Mick Carney, that I really started to take the discipline that came with boxing very seriously.
Between my dad and Mick, they taught me everything about the sport.
PZ: Moss Side Fire Station Boxing Club been running since 2007. How long have you been involved?
NT: Myself and two of my friends got involved. One was a boxer and the other was a kickboxer. They approached me to say there was an old garage in Moss Side and that maybe we could turn it onto a boxing club. Being a fireman, a boxer and a father, I saw the merits in wanting to help the local community and believed I had something to bring to the table in terms of boxing knowledge.
Within a short time, we opened the doors to the public and started with one session per week. The problem was that the kids kept and coming and coming, so it no time at all, it turned into a seven day a week operation.
On the wall is a sign which says, Discipline – Respect – Courage. These elements act as the fundamental framework for every person who steps into the club. We call it the ‘respect wall’, as you can discover courage and discipline.
PZ: Tell me about the people who walk through your doors.
NT: Moss Side does receive a lot of bad press due to crime rates in the area, but it’s a very diverse area and one of the things we pride ourselves on, is that the doors are open to anyone, irrespective of race, colour, creed, religion or background. Once you step through those doors and lace up a pair of gloves, you’re equal. You abide by the same rules – Discipline – Respect – Courage.
Here’s a story – There was a 15 year old kid who was innocently riding home on his bike through a park, shot four times and killed by a gunman, believed to be part of a gang. His name was Jessie James and the gunman to this day, nine years later, has still not been traced.
Jesse was made a bit of a martyr in the local area and many of the kids were wearing t-shirts with his name on them. Two kids walked in with the t-shirts on and I said, “Can you respect those rules on the respect wall? Respect the gym, respect the community, respect each other, respect the coaches and respect yourselves.” One of the kids sucked his teeth and I said, “Don’t suck your teeth. You can do press ups.” This kid never came back.
The other kid, called Isaac, did come back. Not only did he return, he became a model student and a great boxer. In under three years, he was ranked No 3 in the country for his age.
The other kid in the meantime is currently locked up doing a very long prison sentence, whereas Isaac has a job, a house and a family. Despite having to stop boxing due to a broken shoulder, the values of the boxing club are still firmly cemented into his life ethos and that’s worth more than any lottery for me to witness. He’s a credit to the community as opposed to a drain on the country.
PZ: What are you trying to achieve through the medium of boxing?
NT: It’s so easy to get dragged into crime in our community with all the negative influences we are surrounded by. If we are able to replace those negatives with positives and allow people to develop physically and mentally via the medium and discipline of boxing, Moss Side can continue to become a better place.
Just to clarify – it’s not about fighting. Many of our success stories have been about kids who have come in with inferiority complexes, either down to weight or bullying and we’ve been able to give them the confidence to walk out with their head high. These people may never lace up a pair of gloves in the ring, but they have transcended their fears by adopting our club’s values.
PZ: What are the opening hours?
PZ: Tell the readers one thing about yourself not many people know.
NT: I married my childhood sweetheart Suzy who I met when I was 14.
PZ: If you could spar three rounds with any past boxing legend, who would it be?
NT: Either Sugar Ray Leonard or Sugar Ray Robinson. I don’t think I’d hit either of them with a shot in those three rounds – but I’d try!
Also – I’m going to spar three rounds with Jamie Moore soon and I’m going to batter him!!