Champion Birmingham boxer on unfair stereotypes amid fears kids are branded 'lazy and anti-social'

Brothers Gamal, Kal and Galal Yafai at the campaign launch event at Birmingham's Millennium Point.
-Credit: (Image: Alexander Brock)

A world champion boxer who grew up in inner-city Birmingham has spoken out about the unfair stereotypes that young people are faced with. Kal Yafai, along with his brothers Gamal and Galal who are also professional boxers, have recently been named as the first ambassadors of a new campaign in the West Midlands.

The My Tomorrow campaign wants to give young people their own platform to challenge harmful stereotypes. It will run for a year, with hopes it can make a difference to young people’s lives while responding to concerns around employment, violent crime and youth service cuts.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Simon Foster said he was “deeply concerned” that some young people in the region were unfairly branded lazy, anti-social and even violent. Prior to the campaign’s launch event at Millennium Point last week, Kal echoed similar fears, saying: “I am 100 per cent worried about the futures of young people, especially those from deprived areas who automatically get the blame when there’s trouble.

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“They need much more support and it’s one thing that’s overlooked". Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service at the event, he said kids were branded with unfair stereotypes because of the “world of social media and the internet”.

On the positive impact the campaign could make, he said: “You need to hear the young people’s voices - I think that’s the most important thing. People just think what younger people need, they don’t hear it actively from themselves so I think that’s critical.”

Mr Foster said at the event that the campaign was about “firmly rebutting” those stereotypes. “In my view, they are based on ignorance and a failure to understand that young people are essentially really positive,” he said.

“They do have a lot of energy, they have great ideas and wonderful intelligence, and they’ve got fantastic creativity". Discussing the brothers’ upbringing in inner-city Birmingham and how they discovered their purpose growing up, European champion Gamal Yafai said: “We found boxing and boxing helped us loads.

“I had a bit of anger so boxing helped me massively and kept me off the streets, put me on the straight and narrow. I loved it - it was something I always wanted to do.”

Simon Foster at the West Midlands PCC election count on Saturday, May 4
Simon Foster at the West Midlands PCC election count on Saturday, May 4 -Credit:Alexander Brock

The brothers have already been trying to make a positive difference through their own foundation, which aims to encourage and support young people to overcome challenges. “We’re just starting off with it all,” Olympic gold medallist Galal Yafai said. “We’re still learning as well - that’s why we come to these types of events and speak to people and kids.

“Before boxing, we were in the same position. If guys like us can come through the same situations in the same city, then these guys can as well.”

Youth-led research, funded by the PCC's Violence Reduction Partnership, has helped shape the My Tomorrow campaign. The campaign, delivered by Coventry charity The Positive Youth Foundation, will include a year-long programme of events for young people across the region, backed up by free resources and "extra manpower" for youth organisations and charities.

Rashid Bhayat, CEO of the Positive Youth Foundation, said: “The campaign is the beginning of the conversation that young people want to have with their communities. They have been incredibly brave in their honesty about what is affecting them the most, and importantly want to remind us all that they are the solution and not the problem.”

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