Prison officer says amateur boxing helped him overcome neurodevelopmental disorder - The Rugby Observer

Prison officer says amateur boxing helped him overcome neurodevelopmental disorder

Rugby Editorial 31st Aug, 2023   0

A DISCIPLINED prison officer who competes at the top of amateur boxing has explained how the sport helped him to manage his learning difficulties and help stop the cycle of crime.

Joe Taylor, who works at HMP Onley near Rugby, says his blossoming amateur boxing career has helped him overcome a neurodevelopmental disorder.

Joe took up boxing at the age of 10 after he was diagnosed with ADHD, and now competes in the 60kg lightweight division.

The 20-year-old has won midlands and Warwickshire titles by beating fellow elite amateurs from around the country, and recently won Gold at the Hull Box Cup, the largest Olympic-style boxing tournament in England for all age groups.

He is now targeting a national title – and maybe becoming a professional boxer in the future.

He said: “When I was 10, I was overweight, getting into trouble and having a few problems at school. I was diagnosed with ADHD, so my mum took me to the local boxing club, and I never looked back.

“It taught me discipline and to control myself, and it gave me a focus. It’s opened up a lot of opportunities for me and allowed me to box for titles, having success and travelling around the country.”

Joe started work as a prison officer two years ago, and is hoping to progress to a physical education instructor role in the future.

He said: “My dad is a prison officer and he wasn’t sure when I told him I was joining. It’s a challenging environment and having that in common has actually helped our relationship.

“At first when I joined the prison service, I was conscious about what the prisoners would think, and how they would see me – being a boxer, and having ADHD – but it helps me relate to a great number of them, and helps build a good rapport. They take an interest in how I’m doing.

“I think it is important to be honest, open and transparent as a prison officer, to be yourself and be as straight up and as honest as you can be. People respect you for that, which gets you along way.”

He tries to encourage prisoners with similar difficulties to put their energy into gaining employment, taking training courses and qualifications, or channelling their energy into sport.

He added: “There is no feeling quite like going home or to training at the end of a long day, thinking to yourself ‘I really made a difference today.”


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