UFC launches initiative with youth charity OnSide to get youngsters off the streets

Jimi Manuwa

The Ultimate Fighting Championship has launched its first-ever youth mentoring programme - a new initiative aimed at tackling youth crime in the United Kingdom. 

Working in partnership with leading youth charity OnSide, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization is putting its support behind the charity by raising awareness and establishing a martial-arts focused training scheme at various locations across the country.

Former UFC light-heavyweight Jimi Manuwa has joined forces with fellow UFC stars Darren Till and Leon Edwards to help get young children off the streets by teaching them the fundamental basics of mixed martial arts.

And London's very own 'Poster Boy' claims UFC president Dana White himself has been passionate about supporting the cause. 

"He was all for it," Manuwa said exclusively to GIVEMESPORT. "Dana [White] was all for it and he put me straight in contact with Brian [Smith] and then he put everyone in contact and made it happen. 

"There's been nothing but positive energy coming from the UFC with their support and that. 

"And here we are. I'm excited to get started."

Jimi Manuwa

Manuwa, who currently resides in Calabasas, California, is drawing on his own personal experiences of growing up on the streets of London as he looks to give back to the local community he holds dear.

"I got into a lot of trouble when I was a kid and I went to prison numerous times for driving [offences] and all different types of stuff," says the 41-year-old.

"So I've been through all these issues that these kids are going through. And that's why I'll be able to communicate with them and that they will respect me and listen to what I've got to say."

The Londoner said the initiative has partly been set up in response to what has been a recent spike in recorded gang-related violence, with more than 200 young people murdered across the country as a result of knife crime during 2020.

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Manuwa admits he is excited by the prospect of working with Edwards and Till as the trio plan to use their influence as a force for good.  

"I'm really happy that we're able to use our platforms and our positions as the world's top fighters to be able to give back to our communities and help steer the kids away [from crime] and to give them different options from the roads that they're going down.

"We'll have to engage everyone differently. Not everyone is the same. But everyone who will want to come to this programme, they'll respect us.

"I know it'll be a success, man. I really don't know the first thing I'll say to the kids, but I know we'll definitely get through to them."

Manuwa

However, it doesn't just stop there, either.

Manuwa revealed he has ambitions of expanding the scheme internationally as the UFC aims to bring more fighters on board. 

He continued: "This is not just going to be for the UK or London, this is going to be worldwide.

"Every single UFC athlete can have this in their own area. And that's what I'm excited about.

"There are kids all over the world who are going to need this mentoring programme and I'm excited to be able to kick it off and give help to kids all across the world.

"It's such a great thing because martial arts is worldwide and there are kids that need mentoring worldwide. And the UFC is the perfect platform to do this."

Read more: Ryan Hall vs Ilia Topuria booked for UFC 264

Legacy Youth Zone will launch next month and serve as the pilot program, with the Midlands and Northwest chapters launching in early 2022. To learn more, visit UFCONSIDEYOUTHMENTORING.

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