Two fighters of the Laureus family from the world of top-flight heavyweight boxing are set to meet in the ring this weekend.
Wladimir Klitschko, fast on the heels of his brother Vitali’s recent victory over Dereck Chisora, is taking on French fighter Jean-Marc Mormeck in Dusseldorf, Germany.
Both the Klitschko brothers and Mormeck are committed supporters of Laureus and the belief that sport can be a positive tool in solving the world’s great social challenges.
These of sport’s most positive attributes were regrettably absent following the elder Klitschko’s fight with Chisora earlier this month.
At the post-fight press conference, just hours after Vitali’s victory, Chisora and former heavyweight champion David Haye, who lost his own fight with Wladimir last year, were involved in a violent confrontation.
The news shocked the global sports community.
But Bernd Bönte, manager of the Klitschko brothers, has now stated that he expects no such behaviour to tarnish the action this weekend.
Talking to Daily German newspaper the Hamburger Abendblatt, Bönte said: “Mormeck is a totally different type [to Chisora]. Like the Klitschkos he is a friend of Laureus too and that’s why there’s no reason to be worried.”
Laureus supports projects around the world that use sport to change the lives of children for the better.
Whether it is helping teach young people in Africa about AIDS awareness or bringing children together from different sides of divided communities in the Middle East, sport has proven to be a powerful tool in making the world a better place.
Inspiring stories of this happening from throughout the family of Laureus-supported projects fill the pages of the Laureus blog and now is your chance to tell the world your inspiring stories too.
So, no matter how modest your story is, give the readers of the Laureus blog an insight into how sport has changed your life for the better in the comments box below.
The most inspiring will also be shared on Twitter @LaureusSport
David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, has held a meeting of top players and authorities from British football to address racism and homophobia in the sport.
Now the Prime Minister is heeding calls for action, stating that: “If everyone plays their role, then we can easily crush this problem.”
For over ten years now, tackling discrimination, including prejudices such as racism and homophobia, has been a primary goal for Laureus.
And it has been sport itself that has proved to be the remarkable tool through which to do this.
Despite this success, Laureus Academy Members Sergey Bubka, Boris Becker, Steve Waugh and Gary Player came together to discuss the continuing presence of racism in top-flight sport on news broadcaster CNN in the run-up to the recent Laureus World Sports Awards.
Tanni Grey-Thompson is the most successful British Paralympian of all time. She is also a Laureus Academy Member and has travelled the world supporting the Sport for Good message. During the recent Laureus Awards weekend, Tanni took some time to give her thoughts on Laureus.com on some issues close to her heart.
On how sport helped in Tanni’s youth
I was quite shy when I was young, so it really helped in terms of meeting people. When I was younger, attitudes to disabled people weren’t as positive as now. There was huge discrimination and sport gave me the confidence to deal with that – and of course the health and fitness side. When I became paralysed at seven there were no dropped curbs, public transport was not accessible, so being healthier made it much easier to deal with those things. It crossed over into every aspect of my life.
On sport engaging young people
If you get sport, you get how it can change lives, that is why Laureus research is so important, so you can show that if you do this much exercise then this is what happens. Young people get a tough deal.
It’s hard for young people to fight their way out of the hand they’ve been dealt and sport is an important part of that.
On disabled role models such as Oscar Pistorius and Natalie du Toit
It’s really important. When I was growing up you didn’t see many disabled people on the streets let alone in the media or sport. And it was well into my ‘teens before the London Marathon began a wheelchair race. There were lots of people I admired in sport, but nobody I could completely relate to, so it’s really important to have that now both for disabled young people but also non-disabled young people, so they can realise that being disabled is not the worst thing that can happen. It’s not the worst thing that’s happened to me, not even close! It’s about changing perceptions.
On Paralympians competing in mainstream Olympics and the future of Paralympics
It’s a really important time for the Paralympics to figure out where it’s going. We’ve crammed into 40 years of evolution what the Olympics did in several hundred years of sport. Now it’s a really important time for the Paralympics to think about what events are needed. The idea of the Paralympics was because athletes were excluded because of discrimination. If there are events where they aren’t [at a disadvantage because of their disability] like Natalie du Toit [Paralympic open water swimmer] then there isn’t a reason why they can’t compete in mainstream Games. It’s about what we want the Paralympic Games to be, where we want them to be in 10 or 12 years time and whether we always want it to be separate?
One of the highlights of the Awards weekend had to be the very first ‘Sport for Good Youth Festival.’
Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, led a huge number of Laureus Academy Members and Ambassadors when they visited Millwall Football Club the morning of Monday’s Laureus Awards to see participants of the Urban Stars project at work.
Some of the greatest names in sport were shown first hand how their support for the good work carried out by Laureus and the projects they support was changing lives and communities for the better.
And they were so impressed the Laureus Academy Members and Ambassadors started getting in on the action themselves.
Former 200m sprint world champion Frankie Fredericks, a Laureus Ambassador, joined in a six-a-side football match. Laureus Academy Member Nadia Comaneci, the greatest gymnast of her generation, held a group of girls spellbound as she told of the commitment and training needed to achieve success, and former world boxing champion Barry McGuigan even gave some tips to pugilistic enthusiasts.
The hive of activity within the Lions Centre, a giant sports hall, demonstrated the positive role that sport can play in unlocking the leadership potential of youth in the United Kingdom.
The Sport for Good message was exemplified no better than by Ibrahim Kanu, an 18-year-old from the Elephant and Castle district of London, who told Laureus Academy Members, Ambassadors and guests his own very personal story.
Kanu said: “Before I got involved with Urban Stars I was mainly hanging around the streets causing trouble and not doing anything beneficial towards my life. But attending an Urban Stars sports session was a big mark for me. From that moment I knew I really wanted to get involved in sports in any way possible.”
Urban Stars offered Kanu focus to his life and gave him the confidence to go on in education and gain 11 GCSE examination passes.
Kanu is now at Middlesex University studying sports and exercise science, he has attained Level One coaching badges in football and basketball, and he has stayed with Urban Stars as a volunteer.
He said: “In my opinion, if Laureus had never been around to fund projects like Urban Stars, I wouldn’t be the person I am right now.
“And Urban Stars hasn’t only had an effect on me. It has helped build a wonderful atmosphere within my community where it has got other people doing beneficial things for themselves and for others.”
The occasion also provided an opportunity for a delighted Moses to award certificates to those young Londoners who had completed the Urban Stars training, delivered by Laureus’ UK-based partner the Active Communities Network.
Moses said: “Urban Stars is a fantastic initiative which we hope to duplicate. It is interesting because we have some of the original kids here who were helped by the project, and they’ve now become team leaders themselves and are helping a new generation.
“As an organisation, that’s the area Laureus is moving into – training and developing project leaders who can work at the grass roots. From that sense, Urban Stars is very important to us in terms of being a model for internal growth.”
One of these successful young people is Andrew Mongi. Addressing the attendees on stage, he told everyone that thanks to the support of Laureus and Urban Stars, he is now training as a graphic artist and has even done work for the Urban Stars website.
Once he had left the stage Andrew told Laureus.com: “Through sport I really have learnt valuable day-to-day skills. I can’t imagine where I would be without Urban Stars, now I have even started my own graphic design business.”
Keep up to date with how Laureus is using sport to change lives by following on twitter @LaureusSport