INSPIRATIONAL boxing coach Yaqoob Hussain is a true community hero.
He has helped thousands of children stay on the straight and narrow through sport.
Last year he even remortgaged his own home to open a new gym.
In January his dedication was recognised by the Queen who awarded him an MBE.
The 56-year-old from Audley, Blackburn, first took up boxing in 1973. His record was 60 bouts and 45 wins, but after five years he turned to training others.
Around 10 years ago he set up the Audley area’s first boxing club with the aim of keeping youngsters off the streets and out of crime.
This side of the gym has been a massive success, but there has also been sporting glory. Scores of talented boxers have been produced, even a couple of schoolboy national champions.
Until last August Audley Amateur Boxing Club was based at Audley Sports and Community Centre.
But, after Yaqoob re-mortgaged his house, he was able to open his own facilities at Perseverance Mill, off Burnley Road, Blackburn.
He gets no financial reward for the club.
He opens up the club four days a week working around his full time job as a manager for Eon Energy.
Yaqoob also referees on a national level and travels the world with budding boxers.
That and four children, five grandchildren and wife Sakandra would be enough for most people. But Yaqoob carries out other community work, including prominent roles in community associations and other youth work groups.
Yaqoob joked that boxing was his ‘first love’ and his wife and children were ‘very understanding’.
He said: “It is my life, my passion. I love the game and I enjoy helping young people.
“Boxing is not a violent sport, amateur boxing is a very, very controlled sport that teaches discipline.
“i like putting young people through the training and helping them.”
Yaqoob is hoping to encourage more young girls and women to take up the sport and is looking to get Great Britain’s women’s coach to the gym to encourage more females to take up the sport.
This will mean the club opens at least five days a week.
He said: “I’m trying to encourage women into boxing. Women are more skilful then men.”
Yaqoob explained his overall philosophy to the tireless amount of work he does: “If I can do it, you can do it. Don’t let anyone stop you.
“I am firm but fair with them and we work hard and when it pays off it gives you a really good feeling, it’s worth it.
“I get no financial reward.
“I just enjoy helping young people.”