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“Put the knives down” – Denzel Bentley meets anti-knife charity Steel Warriors

FORMER middleweight world title contender, Denzel Bentley, is urging knife wielders to put down their weapons and try to work with the crime-fighting charity Steel Warriors.

Steel Warriors uses melted metal from salvaged knives to build outdoor gyms like the one at Langdon Park, Poplar recently visited by Bentley. The 29-year-old will return to the ring on Saturday night (May 11) when he will face Danny Dignum at York Hall. During his preparation, he spent time with the Steel Warriors' Head of Marketing and Community, Christian d'Ippolito, in the gym where he learned calisthenics and showed attendees how to shadowbox.

This week, Bentley spoke to him Debate News about his visit and why he works with the Steel Warriors.

“It's a good cause. It's something I'd like to be involved with. Growing up where I did, knife crime was a big problem [and] it's still a big problem.

“I thought I could show my face and join that community or reach a wider community where people don't see it. I had never heard of it before and I didn't have many people around me. Since this clip and a few videos have come out, a lot of people around me have seen it, which is also attracting attention and maybe they can spread the word about what the Steel Warriors are doing, this is what they are working on.”

“These days fitness is a big thing, but gyms are not free. The Steel Warriors are like that,” he continued.

“It's a gym, stay busy and have fun or try new tricks with what they do with bars and learning about your body. There is no age limit, it is a place for everyone. Most gyms are open 24 hours, and you must be 18 or older to join. Many of these children are not there, but they can go out to the park, one of these places and start exercising and taking care of themselves.”

Growing up on Battersea's Patmore Estate, Bentley is aware of the damage knife crime can do to the area. Said the former British middleweight champion BN that when he was young, he knew that he too could be a victim.

“I've lost a lot of friends because of knife crime,” he said.

“Many of my friends were stabbed and survived. Many of my friends were stabbed and did not survive. At one point in my life, when I was a teenager, I felt like I was going to be a victim. When I reached a certain age, I used to say, ok, I'm 16 now… I'm 18 now, but I can still get stabbed. I have to watch where I'm going and be aware of who I'm crossing paths with and who I'm rubbing shoulders with. Some people are bad company, but you wouldn't know.

“It is possible that you go with your friend who has problems outside of school that you don't know [about it]. He went to meet him at his place. People who had problems also run to you, and you find yourself facing the brunt of it. It's as simple as that, and it is for most people. Not everyone who gets stabbed is guilty of doing anything.

Bentley and some of those who attended the Steel Warriors at Langdon Park, Poplar

“What saved me was boxing. I found a boxing gym so I spent most of my time there. We didn't have any of these outdoor gyms. At that time it was difficult to find gyms [because] they were all under arches. Iron Warriors is out of the park. You can be walking in the park and see them and think, I can go on and on about that. Before you know it, there are people teaching you how to do things. No one is holding back, everyone is friendly, and everyone is willing to jump on each other. Build a small community and climb there for hours and hours. It's good to work together.”

In the year ending March 2023 there were 50,500 crimes involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales*. That was an increase of more than 2,000 cases last year and an increase of more than 6,000 cases in the year ending March 2021.

Bentley has seen some of the parks he used to play in as a child being demolished. A number of soccer cages are facing the same fate, and Bentley says kids need a safe place to go and something positive to do to burn off all their energy.

“The aim is to find jobs for children. Burn yourself. They have fun, have their free time and go home to relax and prepare dinner, sleep, homework or whatever. If they are outside, you don't want them to wake up.”

Bentley also had a message for those who carry knives for self-defense or with the intention of harming someone.

“You don't need them. Just put the knives down because nine out of 10 knives are there to hurt people.

“Nobody wants to hurt someone or kill themselves. The results are crazy. A person loses his life, the person who did that goes to jail, he loses his life. They sit there for years and regret it. Don't live a life of regret. Put the knives down.

“It's hard to find words. I don't care about everything or I don't know. I get it but you need to make a better lifestyle choice. If you feel like you need to carry a knife, try to get out of that area. ask yourself, why do i need this? You are clearly in an unsafe place. Try and find a place like a boxing gym, Steel Warriors or whatever or get out of the area if you can, try to get out of the situation you're in. Try not to carry knives because they destroy lives. It belongs to the person you hurt.”


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