Photo Gallery: Sexton inspires Norfolk’s youth
Norwich's former Commonwealth heavyweight boxing champion Sam Sexton is ready to help inspire the county's next generation of sporting talent.
Sexton put youngsters through their paces yesterday on a visit to a King's Lynn school as part of a week-long nationwide series of activities to highlight school sport week.
The 26-year-old openly wrote off a 'miserable' 2010 which saw him not only lose his title to Derek Chisora in his last previous outing, but cope with his mother's successful fight to overcome a brain aneurism. Sexton is now in line for a ring return early next month and believes sharing his experiences in and outside the ropes can offer a positive life message.
He said: 'I just tell them try to find something they enjoy – it doesn't have to be boxing – and stick to it and you never know in a few years time they could be in a similar position. Boxing and sport have given me everything in my life and I enjoy it.
'Speaking to an assembly is a bit daunting. If I had the choice I'd rather go into a boxing ring but the same skills you need in boxing like determination and discipline and motivation are good things to have in life generally. When I first started there were certain things I couldn't do after school because I wanted to box and prepare for a fight. It's the same for these children. If you want to do well at your exams you have to put in the work and revise.'
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Sexton was the same age as some of the children who took part in his boxing session at King Edward VII yesterday along with sampling a range of Olympic and Paralympic sports as part of the Lloyds TSB-backed event.
He said: 'I was 11 when I started and I just loved if from the off. That was my passion. I would get home from school and the boxing bag would be straight out of the cupboard and I was down the gym.
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'It's a great event to come down and be part of. I don't remember having too many of these opportunities when I was at school. I'm part of a scheme which draws together sports people from across the county – I was here before to open a multi-games area and I've done a few now. We do the boxing and the pad work and they seem to love it. It's nice if they do see me as an inspiration.'
Sexton is determined to shine for his young fans when he begins his long-awaited comeback on the undercard of the Kevin Mitchell bill at the Excel Arena in London on July 9 against an as yet unnamed opponent. The Norwich fighter had to abort his recent return when his scheduled six-rounder against Hastings Rasani was cancelled. 'That was disappointing when you train so hard for a fight and then it doesn't happen, but I have carried on the training and if anything I am even fitter now. I have had a lot of boxing issues to deal with but if anything what I have been through has made me even more hungry. I'm not taking this fight for granted but it is a warm up that hopefully can lead me to be around the mix for a British title fight later in the year.'
More than four million young people from schools across Britain signed-up to take part in National School Sport Week 2011, an initiative run in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust. Schools across Norfolk are taking part, each hosting opening and closing ceremonies, torch relays, inter and intra school competitions and inviting local clubs to come in and give taster sessions in a variety of Olympic and Paralympic sports.
National School Sport Week uses the anticipation of London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to inspire pupils to do more sport and physical activity, with young people invited this year to pledge to set and achieve a personal best in an Olympic or Paralympic sport, individually, with their class or club and at every level.
It is part of the London 2012 Get Set+ education programme, where young people can find out more about the Games and explore the Olympic and Paralympic Values as London 2012 approaches.
Parents across Norfolk can pledge their support for their local school taking part in National School Sport Week at lloydstsb.com/nationalschoolsportweek.
• Schools that receive the minimum number of pledges could be in with the chance of carrying the Olympic Flame in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, or winning tickets to the Games.