West Lothian gym owner under fire for offering youths chance to fight in ring not street
A GYM-OWNER has come under fire for offering local youths the chance to fight each other in his boxing ring instead of on the streets.
David Orr, owner of Warriors Gym in Whitburn, West Lothian, told the Evening News that he wants to knock-out fighting in local schools.
Writing on the Warriors Gym Facebook page, he said: “If you want to fight each other message me, you can have a square go in the ring, no cameras, no friends, just the two of you.
“You will fight until someone gives up but you WILL shake hands and that’s the case closed and you move on with your lives.”
He closed the message with: “Life is too short, there is so much to do and see in this world, I’m not saying stop fighting, I’m saying fight for a better life.”
Mr Orr, who has children of his own, has since been told by Police Scotland to remove the post but not before around 60,000 people saw it online.
He said: “I got a phone call from Police Scotland who wanted to talk to me about the post.
They said, ‘David you’re not in trouble, but we would like to talk about the post’.
“They had calls from people complaining and they had to follow it up.
“They advised me to remove the most as it was causing a lot of disruption but I had already removed it as it had served its purpose.”
His aim was to tackle violence in schools head on and in a controlled environment and help channel energies into physical activities such as boxing.
Mr Orr, 40, has been boxing since he was five years old and has owned Warriors since July 2015. He runs fitness classes, sparring sessions and junior boxing classes.
The parents of children he coaches have supported his idea. He said: “All of the parents said that they thought it was a brilliant idea, we help children who have anger issues. Boxing gives them a source of relief.
“We have children who have ADHD, autism and other behavioural issues.”
It was while dropping off his seven-year-old daughter to after school club at Armadale Academy that he noticed the police at the main entrance.
He said: “That’s when I took my chance to talk to them. I told them my gym was open for any kids who want to fight each other and afterwards they would shake hands and move on with their lives. The officer and teacher agreed that this was a great idea.”
Mr Orr’s original post made it clear that any teenagers taking up his offer would be required to wear headguards and boxing gloves.
Some parents expressed outrage at the post but David says the reception was overwhelmingly positive, with an “80/20 split in favour of the positive.”
One supporter wrote: “Was a great idea. Offering a safe controlled environment for the kids to settle their differences is the best way to solve it and would help to give them a bit of respect for each other”
Another mother wrote: “I think what you were offering was fantastic. Sort out their differences in a safe, supervised way with no cameras filming [or] putting it on social media.
“The alternative at best is a punch up in the street where kids are getting kicked in the head, falling to the ground, other watchers jumping in.
“At worst they could be carrying a weapon or even just a bottle lying about and one of them end up dead from their injuries or if head trauma, live with it for the rest of their life.
“I wish there were far more sensible people like yourselves and do things in a controlled way. Some people just can’t see it unfortunately.
One dad wrote: “Street fighting is never going to end well but fighting in a controlled environment where it can be stopped at any point is a far better option.
“Violence isn’t by any means the way to solve problems but sometimes it can’t be helped.”
Mr Orr said: “I wanted to stop all this fighting in schools. West Lothian Council have said there is not a problem but there has been police presence most days.
“I wanted any child who wanted to fight each other in a square go to do it in a safe environment, as opposed to a six-on-one that gets filmed and then put on social media.”
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