A professional boxer is lending a helping hand after footage of a young boy being bullied in a local park went viral.
Twelve-year-old Daniel Edmondson, from Deepdale, was the victim of bullying in Preston’s Moor Park, with the aggressors capturing the footage on tape and sharing it across social media.
The footage, which shows Daniel being intimidated by a group of youngsters and pushed in the face, has been viewed more than 23,000 times.
But when Preston boxer Stuart Maddox saw the video he decided that enough was enough.
Stuart said: “I got a message from a friend of a friend about the video of the lad being bullied and he asked if we can help.
“I was disgusted about what I’d seen so I contacted his mum to ask if I could first share the video to acknowledge it and then if I could train him to give him some confidence.”
The fighter, who takes to the ring again on June 9 at London’s O2 Arena, added: “Boxing might be a way to help. I got bullied when I was growing up and didn’t have anyone to take me under their wing, so I started fighting back.
“Being in the position I am I can give this lad help.”
Daniel’s mum Anne said: “He’s been off school since it happened. He’s still getting threats. I don’t even want him leaving the house.”
Stuart brought Daniel to Larches and Savick Boxing Club on Monday after contacting owner Jimmy Moon.
Jimmy: “Daniel came up on Monday and one of the lads donated some gloves and wraps to him to give him some one-on-one training and classes too.
“He did really well to be honest and looked like he really enjoyed it. His mum came up and was made up with it all.”
Anne said: “He’s smiled more in the last two days than the last two weeks. It’s all down to Stuart.
For the first time since it happened he has got into bed and slept through the night without being woken up by the memories.”
Jimmy added: “Stuart started it all. He actually invited Daniel up in the first place. It’s really great what he’s done. We’ve looked after him and are showing him the ropes.
“Bullying happened to Stuart too when he was a kid so I think he resonated with it. So many kids go through this kind of thing.”
Stuart said: “He’s a natural. He shocked us and I think he shocked himself.
“I wish the bullies could see him now.”
Anne added: “The response since Stuart shared the video has been overwhelming. I’ve had messages of support from people in Australia, America, Madrid. A man from Australia has even sent Daniel a pair of boxing gloves in the post.
“I could never ever thank Stuart and everyone at Larches Gym enough.
“It has restored my faith in humanity.”
Daniel has been taking part in sparring sessions at Larches and Savick Boxing Club.
Gym owner Jimmy Moon said: “We are a great team here; everyone looks out for one another. It’s the best thing about it all.
“We have people from six-years-old to 75. Sometimes we have thirty youngsters in a class at a time. If there’s any signs of any bullying it’s stamped out straight away. There’s none of that whatsoever.
“We don’t allow anything like that in the slightest, which is why we’ve given Daniel this as well.
“Everyone is on the same level here. It’s about respect.
“Daniel could probably look after himself but he’s not a violent person, and boxing isn’t about violence, it’s a sport.
“We are a community,” added Jimmy.
The club was founded in 2002 by Jimmy, Joe Kilshaw and David Fitzgerald.
David Massey, owner of independent Audi specialist garage, ADS Automotive – and a fellow Larches Gym member – has also been helping Daniel at his business site in Pechell Street.
David said: “After seeing what happened with Daniel I invited him down to cheer him up and take him out in the cars to just show him he’s not alone. He just needed an arm around his shoulder.
“He’s a very well mannered young man trying to carry on with his life.”
David has plans to organise a family fun day at ADS Automotive for young victims of bullying to show them that they aren’t alone, with barbecues and spins around the block in fast cars.
“I was a victim of bullying so it’s something close to my heart,” he said.