Aberdeen Assassin Lee McAllister had vowed to make his new gym fully inclusive to help “everyone from all walks of life”.
The multiple belt-winning boxing champion recently opened the Assassin Health and Fitness Village at Balgownie Playing Fields, Homefarm Road, in Bridge of Don.
McAllister has ambitious plans for the gym and is already attracting upwards of 30 kids per session.
The former two-weight Commonwealth champion and two-weight WBU title-holder insists the gym is a sanctuary that offers health, fitness and social skills.
He said: “We are reaching out to everyone from all walks of life.
“We do a lot of work with kids that are under-privileged and have behavioural problems, like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
“We have kids that have autism.
“It is 2019 and people need to realise they are not any different from other children.
“All these children want is love and support. We try to build up the confidence and strength, both mentally and physically.
“It is not a lot of money to come and train here.”
The Million Dollar Baby sessions are open to children from four years old to nine with the Jabbing Juniors targeted at the nine to 14 age group.
Daily adult training sessions are also available at the Assassin Health and Fitness Village.
McAllister believes some gyms can be daunting for children and some adults and is determined to make his fully welcoming and inclusive.
He said: “We have a lot of kids who maybe need to build up their confidence and this offers them a great opportunity to do that.
“We are helping kids with aspects such as healthy eating plans as well as exercise.
“Some kids nowadays sit around computers and don’t get much exercise.
“We are helping the kids with aspects such as healthy diet and also exercise.
“The kids with ADHD are coming on leaps and bounds.
“This gives them something to focus on and channel their energies into.
“The determination and dedication all of the kids have to train is absolutely brilliant.”
McAllister has overseen the training classes with the children and adults alongside his own preparations for a WBU super-welterweight title fight in Livingston next month.
McAllister will fight Justice Addy of Ghana in a top-of-the-bill clash at Livingston FC’s Tony Macaroni Arena on Saturday June 15.
The event is billed as Punching the Stigma – Fighting for Mental Health.
This week has been Mental Health Awareness Week, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation.
McAllister said: “A lot of adults who have depression and struggle with mental health also come to the gym.
“They are all coming on leaps and bounds.
“Once you give someone an opportunity and show them that they can be involved and part of this Assassin family, it can make a difference.
“This is not like an ordinary gym which can be daunting to go into.
“We are all in this together and part of the same team who help one another.”
McAllister’s gym is situated on the first floor of the pavilion at Balgownie Playing Fields.
The 36-year-old insists Assassin Health and Fitness Village is thriving but he is looking for sponsorship to take it to another level.
He said: “It is an amazing set-up at Balgownie in a beautiful area.
“The gym has come on very well and we have managed to get the lay-out almost perfect.
“We have a ring and a big frame for all the bags.
“From starting off with five kids we are now up to 30 per session.
“We are looking to set up so that the kids can go into the gym almost straight after school and the groups will be broken up from four years old to nine and then from nine to 14.
“Obviously they have different development stages in their lives so by breaking them up it means they will learn more.
“We are also starting ladies’ and mums’ boxercise circuits during the day, aerobic work, and we have yoga classes kicking off. We also have a students’ class as well.
“We have been open about a month and there must have been about 800 people through the doors.
“It is coming on really well.
“We are looking for people to come in to help sponsor us with funding for equipment for the kids.”
McAllister will return to the ring next month for the first time in almost a year when facing Addy at Livingston.
The event has been set up to raise awareness of mental health issues and proceeds will be donated to charities such as Fighting the Stigma, suicide awareness and prevention.
The Aberdonian has not fought since defeating Danny Williams in the 10th round of a heavyweight title fight at the Beach Ballroom last July.
McAllister jumped up multiple weight divisions to weigh in for the Williams bout at 91kgs (14 stone 4lbs).
Former British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion Williams famously stopped former undisputed world champion Mike Tyson in the fourth round in the USA in 2004.
In the aftermath of stopping Williams last summer, McAllister’s weight rose higher to 102 kgs (16 stone) due to injury problems.
Now fully fit he will have to shed five stones to make weight to face Addy next month.
Addy has a pro record of 16 wins (four KO), four defeats and one draw.
He recently defeated Ghanaian middleweight champion Daniel Aduku and has previously fought for the West African Boxing Union title.
McAllister has already shed more than two-and-a-half stones and is on course to tip the scales inside the super-welterweight limit for the Livingston clash.
There is no better place to shed the weight than in his own gym.
He said: “Five stones is a lot of weight to take off but I have already lost more than half that.
“I will be ready for the fight in Livingston.
“This is the opportunity for me to win another title at another weight and I am determined to do that.”