Former world Thai boxing champion Rebecca Donnelly has helped thousands of marginalised young men turn their lives around through the charity she founded, Fight 4 Change. In 2015 her work was recognised with an MBE.
Rebecca uses boxing to engage youngsters involved with gangs and criminal behaviour. “The adrenaline rush they get from crime is hard to beat but it can be replicated in the ring,” she says. “By adding discipline and mentoring, we give these lads a second chance.”
Sport is what motivated Rebecca to achieve in life. South London born and bred, Rebecca discovered Thai boxing as a 15-year-old when her father urged her to take up a martial art for personal protection. By the age of 27 she was the World Under-57kg Thai Boxing Champion and one of the UK’s top female amateur boxers.
Like boxing, Rebecca’s experience studying business at the University of Greenwich was a key building block in her success. She uses strategic, financial and marketing skills to develop her charity and bring in crucial funding.
Always the entrepreneur, her next ventures include making a feature film scripted and acted by young people, and opening a café which they learn to run. The charity will then help them move into education or employment. Still learning herself at 37, Rebecca is a fine role model.
“Studying at Greenwich gave me confidence. You are put in a totally new situation, learning different things and meeting a wide range of people.”
“The great thing is that you are not alone. Your tutors guide you until the strange becomes familiar. It turned out to be a brilliant opportunity for me.”