Boxing’s big hearts muck in

Nick Lourens, one of the cornerstones of ‘Walking Tall’, lending a hand last week.

Boxing looks after its own, and others, as the latest initiative by a group of insiders demonstrates.

Led by former heavyweight pro Jeff Ellis and his wife Marie, the group includes boxing photographer Nick Lourens and his wife Janice, plus top trainer Anton Gilmore.

They have started a soup kitchen in Joburg’s southern suburbs that reaches out to the less fortunate. Aptly named “Walking Tall”, the project represents not only pride and dignity, which they look to instil in each of the beneficiaries’ lives, but a sense of worth, belonging and hope for a better tomorrow.

The soup kitchen operates out of Gilmore’s Southern Giant gym/community centre every Wednesday at noon. The food, which is prepared by the group, along with assistance from Golden Gloves and good people like Brian Wysoke, is distributed to the needy, chief among them street kids.

A number of corporates have already chipped in and the likelihood is that their number will increase.

“Walking Tall” intends to register as a non-profit NGO and will soon have a bank account, but for now it’s a hand-to-mouth operation that is already making a difference.

Ellis explains that the idea had started simply as boxers giving back to the community, with his brother Ron, also a former pro boxer, having got things moving. “He just hates to see someone go hungry,” said Ellis.

Predictably, a range of boxing-affiliated people have put their hands in their pockets, chipping in here and there to ensure the project thrives.

“If we can just help a few people get by, it will be well worth it,” said Ellis. “No-one should go hungry and it’s up to us to do what we can.”