On Friday 7th 2014, I had the great pleasure of being invited by the Bowers family to the Peacock Gym in Canning Town, to see and hear the proposed redevelopment plans of not only the gym itself, but for the whole of Caxton Street North in Canning Town, which it is located on.
Having been in and out of the Peacock for the last 18 months on a weekly basis, pencilling Jimmy Tibbs autobiography, I’ve not only discussed with Jimmy and the Bowers family how the old Skyline used to look (pre Canary Wharf), but also how it has evolved into what it has today. The current location within Canning Town has seen the likes of the Second World War come and go, with prefab housing soon popping up in the 1950’s, through to multi-storey flats and skyscrapers across the river Thames. Present day – you will now sees the remanence of the 2012 Olympics, by way of the cable cars and the Olympic stadium just down the road.
Throughout all of this, the Peacock Gym has been a major part of keeping the local community together and developing individuals from physical, social, psychological and technical perspectives.
Many years ago, (the late) Bradley Stone said of Canning Town (during the making of the film Real Money), ‘you can do two things around here – kick a ball or box.’ He was so very right. The other alternative, without a focus in life, was to get involved in crime and possibly end up in prison.
The Bowers family have been addressing many fundamental social issues in society over many years, via the medium of sport and with the redevelopment, will not only continue to pay tribute to Bradley’s words, but will be expanding the portals of opportunity, via host of new mediums through its Academy.
On the 7th November 2014, a number of showcases were put in, including a great exhibition of boxing from two professional boxers (both trained by Martin Bowers), Tommy Tear and English welterweight champion, Ahmet Patterson. Both showed how the discipline of boxing can not only get you into incredible shape, but their friendly and calm personalities straight after stepping out of the ring, shows that boxing is first and foremost a discipline. You spar in the gym and fight in the ring.
The same went for the kickboxing and various other martial arts on display that evening and also the arm wrestling, which had many people thinking, ‘Shall I have a go?’.
A great milestone for the night also came by way of an excellent presentation from Patrick Jones and Danny Steadman. Both lads have been a part of the Peacock Academy for a number of years and on the evening, they presented on the ‘History of the Docklands Light Railway,’. The Academy ethos is not only to encourage individuals to use the medium of sport to stay out of crime, but to also encourage social enterprise and use the teachings of the academy as a stepping stone to full time employment. On that particular evening, Patrick and Danny not only did an excellent presentation on the DLR, but showed that they had graduated from boys to men, via the academy and paid tribute to how the teachings of the Peacock Gym really do work. No doubt a very proud moment for the Bowers family, The Peacock Gym and Canning Town.
On the night of the evening, I was wearing a hat and I took it off. Not just because I was getting hot, but more as a symbol of how proud I was and am of the outputs of the gym. I look forward with bated breath to the redevelopment of the gym over the next 18 months and its plans past 2016…..