Akay Isola has won this month’s Barclays Community Sports Award, an accolade which recognises the contribution of individuals and groups to grassroots sport and celebrates the work of the Barclays Spaces for Sports community investment programme across the UK.
The 75-year-old was recognised for his leadership of a youth boxing club in west London, which he founded in 1974 after observing a lack of places for young adults to practise the sport.
The All Stars Boxing and Youth Club has since become an institution in the local community, providing training, support, encouragement and guidance to around 300 members.
Akay’s dedication has helped to produce a number of local and national boxing champions, and has enabled disadvantaged children and young adults to develop the skills needed to succeed in and out of the ring.
He has also managed to obtain a lottery grant and raise £1,500 to renovate the club’s facilities and to buy boxing equipment.
Akay said: “I am overwhelmed to receive the Barclays Community Sports Award from Barclays Spaces for Sports, the Premier League’s Creating Chances programme and the Football Foundation.
“I thoroughly enjoy what I do and I’m so happy to be in a position where I can help young people turn their energies towards positive achievements. The prize money will go a long way towards funding new equipment for the club.”
Gareth Southgate, former Middlesbrough and England international footballer who heads the judging panel for the award, concluded: “The quick growth of the All Stars Boxing and Youth Club and the commitment of its members and volunteers is testament to the outstanding contribution from Mr Akay in getting this fantastic club up and running.
“He has created a place where the youth of London can not only learn the commitment and dedication it takes to become a professional sportsman, but where members from all walks of life can improve their fitness levels.”
The Barclays Community Sports Award is a joint initiative between Barclays Spaces for Sports, the Premier League’s Creating Chances community football programme, and UK sports charity the Football Foundation. Each monthly winner will receive £1,000 for their group or organisation, a limited edition trophy, and be entered into the end of season award to win a further £5,000.
Colleagues, as well as members of the public, can nominate a person, group or not-for-profit organisation for the Barclays Community Sports Award by visiting the website.
Barclays Spaces for Sports, launched in the UK in 2004, is a community sports programme using sport to revitalise disadvantaged communities and tackle key social issues in countries around the world where Barclays operates.