Mac Pemhiwa is sending out the message: “Put down your knives and fight with your fists.”
Pemhiwa last year set up ‘Young Lives Matter’ to raise awareness of knife culture after being appalled by what he had seen on the news and in home-town Southend.
The 29 year old, set for his third pro fight this month, said: “People I went to school with are in prison for murder with knives. It’s crazy. I sat with them in year seven and look where they are now.
“I had fights growing up myself, like all boys do. You’re in the park and you want to see who’s best, but there are young people now who go home and fetch a knife and take people’s lives – and for what ?
“We’ve talked to people and some seem to treat it like it’s a game, while for others, it’s seen as part of the initiation into a gang. We are trying to get people down the gym to talk about the problems. We see ourselves as a sort of big brother. There’s a problem here that we are trying to fix together.”
Pemhiwa is busy. The father of three is also involved in a business that makes non-GMO honey, but says he’s now ready to dedicate more time to his professional boxing career.
He turned pro last year at 28 after learning the boxing basics on the unlicensed circuit and going into his third pro fight at Lee Valley Athletics Centre on Saturday, April 20, Pemhiwa is still looking for his first win.
But this time, he’s on the left-hand side of the bill – and has had notice.
“I’m always in shape,” said Pemhiwa, “and because of that, I took my last fight at around a week’s notice.
“I’ve learned how difficult this business is – especially when you box away from home. I’m selling tickets for my next one and I’m hoping there’s going to be a great atmosphere.”