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BBC London's 75-year-old Unsung Hero: Akay Isola

75-year-old Akay Isola, the founder of the All Stars Boxing Club, has been named the BBC London 2010 Unsung Hero.

London's BBC Sports Unsung Hero Akay Isola

Over the course of 35 years, Akay has given thousands of young people a real opportunity to make something of themselves and escape a life of crime.

Through boxing, he teaches the values and goals needed to keep them on the straight and narrow and has already changed the lives of many in the area.

BBC London 2010 Unsung Hero: Akay Isola
BBC London 2010 Unsung Hero: Akay Isola

Despite his age, Akay continues to serve the club seven days a week.

His hard work has resulted in the tremendous success of the All Stars Boxing Gym which has become an important symbol of community life on the Harrow Road.

Originally from Ghana, where he ran the Golden Gloves and Great Pegasus Clubs for the youths of Accra, Mr Akay came to England via the United States during the 1970s.

Once settled in a small council flat on the Harrow Road, he realised that there was a lack of youth facilities in the Paddington basin area and particularly for his own family.

When he realised that many of the sports clubs were not prepared to enrol his children because of their colour, he decided to take matters into his own hands.

"He keeps us motivated to achieve bigger things in our own lives"
Obi Egbunike, boxer

Akay ran training classes for up to twenty children in his living room and in the corridor of his sixth-floor council flat for three months.

In 1974, Mr Akay set up the All Stars Youth Club after raising £150,000 for a refurbishment to make the building fit for purpose. He also gave up his job and trained as a Youth Leader.

The Harrow Road building is now an iconic community focal point for youths of all background types and provides positive activities away from the temptation of the knife, gun and drug culture on the street.

BBC London 2010 Unsung Hero: Akay Isola
Akay is congratulated by members of the All Stars Boxing Gym

The All Stars facility is frequented by hundreds of local youths and adults each week, and Akay, who is affectionately known as 'Mr. A' has become a father-figure and friend to most of its members.

One remarkable thing about Akay Isola, is that despite his age, he is determined not to slow down.

"I believe in what I'm doing here and I never want to stop," he said.

In pictures: BBC London Sports Awards 2010
12 Dec 10 |  TV & Radio



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