Tuesday, September 04, 2012
A BOXING coach has hit back at critics of the area he grew up in, saying "if you don't treat people like animals they won't act like them".
Last week, the Advertiser reported how online publication The Week had criticised New Addington, labelling it an "impoverished ghetto" populated by "illiterate" people.
John Behan runs the Steel Gym in New Addington
Now John Behan, who runs the Steel Gym, has spoken out, claiming it is not just The Week which has a bad impression of the estate.
He said: "We get it everywhere. And it is something we are trying to turn around. People are generally good around here."
Mr Behan said he faced what he deemed "New Addington discrimination" by the police recently.
He took several of his young boxers on a night out to watch the David Haye fight last month at the Bar Sports venue in the town centre.
And he said as soon as officers knew they were going down there, they were on the offensive straight away.
"We organised a club night out, that was it," he said.
"But the police heard we were a boxing club from New Addington and deployed extra officers and were stationed by the bar.
"It was unnecessary, they even had a portable holding cell ready to arrest anyone if they kicked off.
"No one did though. We had a great night and, in the end, the officers got so frustrated they told one of my members off for just popping a balloon, saying it was noisy.
"The doorman told me he had been warned about me. They said I used to be an unlicensed boxer and that I was coming down with a lot of friends, but it just proved New Addington isn't all bad."
Mr Behan believes it is time his neighbourhood had a more favourable image and says the positive side of New Addington was reflected in its reaction to the death of schoolgirl Tia Sharp.
He said: "There is a lot of good here.
"We held a minute's silence in the wake of Tia's death. We went around Croydon and bought up all the lanterns and handed them out to residents for free when the community came together to remember her."
"I grew up in The Coppins. I got a scholarship to Trinity and run my own club, and my sister is now a priest in charge of her own parish."
Mr Behan added: "You cannot generalise.
"If you don't treat people like animals they won't act like them."