SOMERTON ABC boxing coach Mark James was shocked to be named Community Coach of the Year at the Wales Sport Awards.

The award recognised the dedication of James, who gives up 15 hours a week to provide opportunities for kids, young people and the elderly to access boxing – for fitness or competing.

He holds four weekly sessions, including on Sunday afternoons, and even more time attending fights and sporting festivals.

And he does all this alongside a full-time job as a mechanical sprayer and supporting his large family.

The past 12 months have seen the club’s membership increase dramatically thanks to James’ tireless work but he didn’t believe he would pick up the award.

“It was a surprise,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d win it and I’m very surprised.

“It wasn’t for me; this trophy is for all the kids, not me.

“If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be doing it anyway.

“I’ve put a lot of hours in and it is hard work but you don’t take that into consideration when you’re training the kids.

“It’s something I like doing and, after going to work all day, it is basically relaxing for me to train them – even if I fall asleep later on!

“Hopefully they all go on to win trophies of their own and go on to bigger things in the future.”

South Wales Argus:

Based in the Communities First area of Somerton, the multi-use facility is transformed into a boxing venue for each training session.

James arrives early to hang up boxing bags and erect the portable ring ready for the members.

“I do it to see them growing as boxers, enjoying it and even winning competitions,” he added.

“It’s important that kids have something to do in the neighbourhood.”

Leigh Williams, sport development officer at Newport Live, said: “He provides opportunities for the hardest to reach individuals through boxing and acts as a father figure for them.

“Mark has influenced many individuals from potentially going down the wrong path by using boxing as the tool to educate and focus them and provide an outlet for many individuals.”

For James, it is more than just sport, it’s a passion.

And his advice for anyone thinking of coaching?

He said: “Definitely go and do it – you get a lot out of it!”