"No matter what your size, age or fitness, boxing is just fantastic," he said at the south London club

By Simon Perry
Updated June 06, 2016 02:40 PM

Prince Harry is ready for a new fight!

The royal ventured into the ring at an amateur boxing club in south east London on Monday – but he did it without his gloves.

Harry visited the Double Jab Amateur Boxing Club, which specifically targets at-risk kids in the community, as part of his push to highlight the power of sport in helping vulnerable youth.

The visit to the club, which comes just days after the death of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, marks the first in a tour of clubs to show how sport can be used as a platform for education, training, employment and personal development.

Harry hopes to “develop his understanding of the sector and use his position to support the great work that is already taking place across the country to ensure that community sports groups continue to play a key role in improving the life chances of disadvantaged young people,” his spokesman says.

As he moved through the club, he chatted to as many of the talented amateurs as possible, asking Ola Alausa, 25, “Are you going to be the next Muhammad Ali?”

Ola, who has boxed at the club since 2012, told reporters afterwards, “He asked us whether it was a place that everyone was welcome. Some people, like myself, come here to get fit or lose weight and get hooked. Others come for different reasons. But what is great is that you can put everything outside here behind you and concentrate on their sport.”

Harry also gave some advice to a 4-year-old boy he met at the club – but the young boy didn’t appear to need it.

“You’ve got to go for the chin,” Harry told Raymond Harris – as the young boxer showed off some genuinely impressive jabs.

Raymond is the 6th generation of boxers in his family. His grandfather, Patrick Harris, 52, is the founder of Double Jab.

“No matter what your size, age or fitness, boxing is just fantastic,” he said at the south London club.

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Harry said boxing was one of his favorite sports, but didn’t show off any of his own moves in the ring. But he may be back – to fight. The club’s founder, Patrick Harris, revealed after the visit that the prince had asked to come back privately and spar with him. “He said he would like to come back and have a go with me on the pads,’ he told reporters.

The power of sports is one of the key areas of service the prince is focused on, along with helping veterans and working to fight the stigma of HIV and AIDS.

Casually dressed in an open-necked white shirt, the prince sat with the club s founder, Patrick Harris, and other mentors, in the middle of the ring to talk about the sport.

“Boxing has in the last two or three years gone through the roof. Why?” he asked.

Harris told him, “It’s a way to keep fit and people like to have confrontation in the ring. It becomes a discipline, like a way of life.”

A Kensington Palace spokesman said in a statement that Harry will be visiting clubs that are often “the unsung heroes in their towns and cities – to further his understanding of how sport can be used as a platform for education, training, employment and personal development.”

“Through his previous work with young people, many of whom have struggled with mainstream education, Prince Harry has seen the impact sport can have in tackling the root causes of some of the most pressing problems among young people in local communities, including crime, anti-social behavior and community cohesion.”

What’s Next for Prince Harry?

He has been a passionate supporter of mentoring schemes like Coach Core, which he and brother Prince William and sister-in-law Princess Kate have also thrown their weight behind.

Through his involvement with the Rugby Football Union, and the Full Effect project in Nottingham, he has also learned that influential local leaders in sports clubs and youth groups “play a vital role in giving disadvantaged young people the opportunities and confidence to overcome personal hurdles and succeed in life,” his spokesman adds.