For every boxer who claims that without the sport he would have ended in prison (for instance Luis Collazo) we might find lists of the ten best boxers who ended up in prison. And yet we also have Prison Fight a charity which claims world connections but seems only to be Thai-based and uses Thai boxing as rehabilitation and holds out the possibility of amnesty; but to my untutored eye it looks exploitative.
Yet boxing rates only 3 mentions in Meek's book: one to note that in her survey boxing was the favoured activity for inmates though banned at the time (p109); that it had recently been approved for use with non-violent offenders (p33) and that it was now offered in a number of establishments (p28).
In ITV’s Bring Back Borstal the ‘boys’ play a game of Rugby Union against a local team and go on cross country runs - shades of the book and film The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner - but they do not box. Several fights break out and a punch ball takes a hammering in Episode 3 to allow one young man to ‘let off some steam'. In Meek’s mentions and more generally it is not clear whether boxing training - i.e. pad work, speed ball, skipping or running - is meant or more serious sparring or even a boxing match - with headguards and gumshields. Organisations like Boxing Academy and Fight for Peace use ‘boxing training’.
… this article discusses and elaborates on existing assumptions in sporting and desistance literature, and argues that while relevant, diversionary activities and sport-based programmes that incapacitate are only one element in the theory of change. In conclusion, I have argued that boxing actually traps men in an attendant culture of respect that requires them to respond in aggressive ways to maintain an image of both masculinity and respect. This attendant culture, that is transposable between gym and street, can override the pro-social incapacitating elements that the gym can offer, and reinforces the logic and discourses that evokes and traps men in habits of responding to violence. Therefore, in terms of future policy and practice, new directions need to be sought.