British boxing stars are helping fight coronavirus by encouraging everyone to get their vaccine.
Olympic medallist Anthony Ogogo and professional prospect Joseph Maphosa are among those promoting the #WinWithTheJab campaign, which aims to boost public confidence in the vaccines.
England Boxing has said it is uniquely placed to help the NHS reach out to people on a community level through its 1,000 clubs with 20,000 members across the country.
Along with coaches and volunteers, former professional middleweight Ogogo will tell the public in a video by England Boxing: “In Covid-19 we know we have a tough opponent, but we can win this fight with the jab” – a message which will be repeated in several languages.
Coaches and boxers will explain their personal reasons for supporting the vaccine rollout – which has seen more than 25 million people in the UK receive their first dose so far – in a series of blogs.
England Boxing coach Quinton Shillington, who helped set up the campaign, said he will be getting the vaccine “as soon as (his) turn comes”, adding that for amateur boxers who are “really missing gyms and our way of life in general” the vaccine “offers a way out” of lockdown.
He said: “Overall, the vaccine rollout has been going extremely well, but some communities, my own Afro-Caribbean community among them, are more hesitant to take a vaccine than others.
“There are many reasons for this, and vary from community to community, but we are hoping through this campaign to address some of those issues and convince people that having the Covid-19 jab when they are offered it is the right thing to do.
“Sadly, we have already lost a number of people in the boxing community to this disease and we don’t want to lose any more.”
As part of the campaign, NHS England’s lead for Workforce Race Equality and neuro-gastroenterologist, Professor Anton Emmanuel, will be holding a Q&A session on England Boxing’s Facebook page on April 1 at 7pm to address people’s worries about getting the vaccine.
Prof Emmanuel said: “The NHS has made fantastic progress in vaccinating the most vulnerable people in society and it is vital that we continue this momentum as supplies allow.
“We’ll be working with England Boxing to answer the questions and concerns of people from a range of communities, and to make sure that everyone knows that this vaccine is safe and effective for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or class.”