Boris Boxes Against Former World Champ

London Mayor visits Wimbledon scheme

Mayor of London Boris Johnson was caught sparring with former world boxing champion Richie Woodhall during a visit to Wimbledon.

Boris (pictured right with Richie Woodhall) was in the town to find out more about a police-run scheme teaching martial disciplines to youngsters.

The TKO project is a 7-week programme for 10-17-year-olds, offering tuition in disciplines such as karate, kick-boxing, taekwondo and judo.

TKO stands for Technique, Knowledge, Opportunity and organisers say it's not just about teaching fighting arts, it's also about passing on skills, experience and helping develop young people's potential.

The course is running every Thursday at the Nuffield Health centre in Wimbledon's Broadway. There were 21 boys from Wimbledon's Rutlish School, as well as a number of police cadets, being put through their paces in the first session yesterday (May 24).

Boris said after his sparring session: "I enjoyed the boxing. It's also wonderful to see so many kids having a good time. Innovative and exciting projects like this are vital to help us continue to bring down crime in the capital and equip young people for tough economic times.

"Rutlish School is a womb of talent and I hope these kids will be our sporting hopefuls in 2016. Some of them are punching hard already!"

The TKO initiative is being rolled out by Merton's Borough Commander, Detective Chief Superintendent Darren Williams, a former Army boxer.

Mr Williams, also one of the TKO instructors, said: "The project has been a huge success and is designed to be fun. It gives young people the opportunity to get to know their local officers in an informal atmosphere and encourages them to become more physically active and socially confident."

He will also be boxing against former world heavyweight champion Tim Witherspoon (pictured above right with Boris Johnson and Richie Woodhall) in a charity match later this year.

The duo (pictured left) will be coming to blows at the Wellington Barracks in Birdcage Walk on October 12 in aid of the Royal Marsden Hospital and a children's cancer charity.

Tim Witherspoon, aged 54, said: "When I'm over here, I'm based at Surbiton where I'm training hard and doing a lot of running. It's great to be doing something positive - raising money for charity."

He said of the TKO project: "It's a great thing the police are doing supporting local kids and offering them opportunities to get involved in sport.  I first met them when the project was launched and it is an honour to be able to show my support."

May 25, 2012