A Bolton man has made a positive impact on his local area which was infamous for drug dealing, substance abuse and violence.

Rasib Muhammad, 44, joined the Premier Boxing Club 11 years ago as a trainer. The club has gone from strength to strength and now has 60 members.

Rasib is proud that two professional boxers train at his gym and both been members of the club for nearly a decade.

Rasib has lived in Bolton his whole life and started boxing when he was 13-years-old, but after being in a car accident at the age of 19 he didn’t box again till he was 26.

The objective behind the club was to get youngsters off the street and educate them about drug abuse.

Haugh was an infamous area of Bolton until recently due to work carried out by Rasib and others who campaign in the community voluntarily. Through boxing, Rasib and others have changed the lives of many young people.

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He has also trained and worked with Bolton’s Amir Khan for a while and collaborated with Khan on his show, ‘Meet The Khans’. Rasib made an appearance on the TV programme too.

He said: “I teach boxing to children between the ages of six to the age of 12. I also teach teenagers and adults. The boxing club is a platform where we promote education to our members young and old. 

“We also teach them discipline and offer advice on life and encourage them to stay away from drugs and alcohol and everything that isn’t good for physical and mental health. 

“The gym is open to everyone not just the Asian or Muslim community. It is open to every person from every walk of life.

“We are part of a diverse community, and we have had boxers who have gone onto win the North West championships and reach finals of national and international tournaments.

“I am not just a coach but a father-figure and friend to my students.

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Rasib said: “Due to our work, violence and drug abuse has decreased. It’s calmed down quite a bit over the past few years.

"A lot of the youth in the area are now more interested in education and starting businesses. Change hasn’t taken just in the area of Haugh but actually in all areas of Bolton.

Rasib also spoke  of the sad periods in his life after he lost three members of his family in quick succession. 

“I always think positive and am grateful for everything. My daughter passed away first, followed by my mum then my wife. But I was patient and trusted God and I think of them every day.

“Life is full of tests and trials, you just have to get through it like our Prophet (s) showed us. I will see my loved ones again.

“When they passed away I felt alone but at the same time I felt close to God. My faith has helped me a lot. I believe in inviting people to Islam through good character as I have learnt from my teacher Shaykh Ahmad Dabbagh. A practical methodology is taught on our website on how to perfect your character.”

Due to Rasib’s passion and dedication three club members embraced Islam over the past few months. 

Fabio Walsh or Muhammad, as he is now known, embraced Islam six months ago, and he has been boxing for the past two years.

Fabio said: “Before boxing I was going off onto the wrong path with people who wasted their time daily by smoking, drinking and partying. I was focused on girls and things like that.

“I always had my older brother who kept me in check when he could, but he couldn’t watch over me day and night so I would still be going out doing things I shouldn’t. 

“My mum saw my behaviour going bad in school so she would make me go to boxing with my brother, but I hated training.

“I didn’t have any goals in my life and began to go through stages of sadness.”

The 16-year-old said: “Rasib started as my boxing coach then became a father figure to me. I saw his behaviour and character and was attracted to Islam.

"I respect him a lot. I was influenced by big characters including Samir Aftab one of the professional boxers linked to the club. I started praying every Friday and I was impacted by the speeches. 

“Ras was a massive influence on me as he has been through tough times, but he continued to coach when he could have become hopeless and leave everything. I realised it was his faith which gave him strength and patience.

“I also had many long conversations with these inspirational people, which eventually led me to embrace Islam. It felt so good to finally become a Muslim."