Brotectors BroBox Project 1.0 - by Aaron Corria

12 weeks ago, Brotectors began a new project called BroBox. This project was to combine physical exercise through boxing training and creating a support network for local men in the community. 12 weeks ago, 6 men who were all strangers were taught the basic skills of boxing and put through their paces.

Each individual had their own reason for joining the project; however, we all had one thing in common, we have all been affected by a mental health problem at some point in our lives. When I initially started planning the project, I became concerned that people may feel intimidated by meeting new people and talking about their mental health, as well as being put through their paces by a professional boxing coach.

It’s a huge ask for someone to turn up to a new environment and to be open with their mental health to complete strangers, but then I was taken back to when I was in a bad place with my mental health and how the demons in my head created a false belief system. You have to fight back and push forward, whether it’s getting up on time or even getting dressed on your bad days; progress is progress, you celebrate the small wins. The BroBox project was never about creating the next Mike Tyson or Canelo. It was about the small wins, the conversations, and the support networks created.

During the project, there were moments that captured how important it is to have a good support network around you. As we were pushing through the training sessions, you would hear words of encouragement, the lads pushing you through the hard reps, pushing you not to give up, and this reminded me of my dark days. If I wouldn’t have had the people around me that I did, I’d have never gotten through the black cloud of depression. People need people no matter how tough or robust you think you are.

During our 12 weeks together, the enthusiasm of the group and how the guys got on and were vocal about their own mental health journey really bonded the group. Some of the lads who took part in the project had never even stepped foot into a boxing club in their life, let alone a boxing ring. It takes courage, and I am really proud of all the group who took part and supported one another. Friendships have been made for life which is more than I could have asked for when starting BroBox.

To enrol onto the BroBox project, it was a condition that each person had to write a short blog at the end of the 12 weeks to share their experiences. Here are a few of the comments we have received from some of the guys who have taken part….

‘’This was the missing piece I had been looking for, and I cannot thank the guys at Brotectors enough for doing the amazing job that they do.’’

‘’I am thankful to have been able to participate with Brobox. Networking with the lads has made me more confident about speaking out about my experience with mental health. I feel like I have made some friends for life.’’

‘’I struggled with mental health for a while before I met Aaron and the team at Brotectors. I didn’t feel like it was normal for me to be feeling this way as a young man in today’s society. Aaron and the guys have taught me that it’s okay not to be okay, and people aren’t going to look down on you if you reach out for help from them.’’

‘’I can’t thank the guys enough at Brotectors for showing me what ‘normal’ really is and helping to break down stigmas associated with mental health.’’

‘’We might not be the best boxers after just 6 weeks, but I can say that every lad who has joined the process are strong for showing up and giving their best, and I am better for meeting them.’’

I have learnt so much from the past 12 weeks from the guys who have taken part, and I cannot wait to start a new BroBox project with new participants in 2022. I would like to thank MESOA, who have supported us with this project and even sent out care packages to all the lads who took part and shared their experiences. I would also like to thank Llanrumney Pheonix Boxing club, who provided us with an empty boxing gym and a great coach in Paul Clark.

Brotectors is proud to be community partners of MESOA, and we will continue to support and educate people in the community and provide a safe space where men can openly talk about their mental health without fear of judgment #WEGOTTHIS.

If you would like to find out more information on the next BroBox project, then please get in touch and email we would love to hear from you.