Academy of Hard Knocks




The Academy is now on it's second course and to my everlasting shame due to changing web hosts and personal injury I haven't been on Sam's case for info. We are still 100% behind the Academy and everything they do and stand for and look forward to updating this page as things go from strength to strength. In the mean time here is a letter received from a grateful mum and some nice promo work from M.M.A. Productions. But first Mum
Hi Sam.
I'm Jed's Mum. I just wanted to say thanks for giving Jed something to focus on positively. He has had a tough time through his short life and has struggled with alcohol and is still recovering. He used it as a coping mechanism. Initially I was quite worried at the prospect of him fighting in any capacity. (Mum thing!) He is a good lad who has been raised with good values. we, his maternal family support him thoroughly and always will. I must say, I have changed my view now and Jed's positive attitude since you have started to mentor him is lovely to see! He was never aggressive to others but has a lot of pent up nervous anger that he has struggled to dispel. Your centre is really helping him to channel this in the right way. I really hope he listens, learns and sticks at it. I hope it will give him something he can feel part of and something he can be proud of himself for doing. I hope he is behaving well and following instruction! So Sam. In a nutshell, your centre has been a god send for my Boy and I thank you and your team so much for that!
A piece of video from Sam Rowe entitled 'Sunshine and Rainbows'
Recently we had an interview with Sam Rowe founder of the Academy of Hard Knocks a project conceived to try and help young people stay out of prison. As the first course comes to an end I am going to take a look at how things went. Sam and team have had an uphill struggle but not with the young men on the course but with the powers that be and gaining funding for the next course.
It's all rather simple.The course costs approximately £30000 a time but it does not take a genius to work out that if even one person on the course changes their ways the savings to society is massive. This article is made up from pieces on The Academy Of Hard Knocks website, their Facebook page and Sam's own personal page and a few of my own thoughts. Various people have contributed to the pages mentioned and I thank them in advance for the use of their work
The aims of The Academy of Hard Knocks are to provide a challenging environment for young people involved in anti-social behaviour, or have been brought to the attention of the authorities, to provide intervention, Break The Cycle of offending and prevent re-offending.
The Academy is designed to foster a spirit of teamwork, self-respect and discipline while being influenced by positive role models and undertakes its engagement at Fight Science, Aldershot - Europe's largest Mixed Martial Arts Gym.
The Academy Of Hard Knocks
Fight Science
Maida Gym,
Hospital Road
Queens Avenue,
GU11 2BT
Tackling Youth Crime
9th April 2013
Run By:
Sam Rowe and Team

Time Line

It's an uphill struggle for Sam and the guys. They have interest from celebrities, radio and TV various websites, Members of Parliament and other Government type people but funding is proving difficult. More in as much as when funding will be available and with a few days to go of this course left unless something happens soon the course will have to be put back which will be a shame. Here is a few posts from the Academy Facebook page, there are many more to see them go visit The Academy Of Hard Knocks by clicking the link above 

The Academy Of Hard Knocks Group Photo19th June 2013
Its Thursday and that can mean only 1 thing. Another session with the guys on the course. Only 2 more sessions after today and the pilot scheme is complete. Sam and I have done our bit, the lads on the course have excelled. Now it is time for all those government departments/ bodies or organisations to stop their talk and make their promises a reality.
13th June 2013
NEWSFLASH the Academy Of Hard Knocks T-Shirts on sale as from tomorrow £10 all money goes towards are funding as all grants and funding are taking their time in order for us to continue our good work please buy one.
10th June 2013
The Academy of Hard Knocks has TWO weeks to go of its pilot course. The course has been viewed as a success by all witnesses and participants and the second course or our first full programme is due to start at the beginning of July.
6th June 2013
Chris Brown taking the guys for another session this afternoon.Plus,the second session will be taken by one of the lads for their peers! Chris Mepham did it on Tuesday and did a great job, Mike's turn today!The guys have come on leaps and bounds in 9 weeks!! Brilliant!!
22nd April 2013
News - BBC radio interview being recorded on Thursday for The Academy of Hard Knocks. Fund raiser this coming Saturday for the Academy. I also met a BBC correspondent reporter earlier. Lee
15th April 2013
On the Life Of A Fighter Website
We've got some super exciting news too! We have joined up forces with an AWESOME program called "Academy of Hard Knocks." This awesome program seeks to "Break The Cycle" and change the prospects for troubled youth. This is a great cause that seeks to change the paths of young adults that are in trouble by enrolling them in a free 12 week program where these young ...adults are educated both mentally and physically (each receiving training and life-coaching from some of the lead athletes and coaches in Britain - as well as nutritional fitness and personal training specialists). These kids will also receive lectures from ex-offenders, local authorities and a guest celebrity over the course of the program. The ultimate goal is to "impart core values of respect, safety, confidence, professionalism, and the importance of positive community involvement to help turn the youth of today into better adults of tomorrow." Please help us spread the word on this amazing initiative and go support the cause! BOOM!
11th April 2013
Day 2 underway good bunch of lads.
9th April 2013
The first of many inductions and launch successfully done many thanks to everybody who are giving their time for free to make a big difference BBC did not show but the local press did see you in this weeks papers.
8th April 2013
Open tomorrow 2pm. Tick Tick BOOM!
21st March 2013
Everyday a step closer Sammy!!
15th March 2013
The Academy is still looking for promotional deals and sponsorship deals. Our revised launch is now 09/04/2013.There has been huge interest in this project with international, national and local interest. Media groups from across the world and using every medium possible will be streaming, beaming and taking pictures of the launch and doing interviews. Be associated with this Ground Breaking Youth Project and have an unrivalled promotional opportunity. We have received support from Councils, Police Services, Social Services, Youth and Community Groups, Crime Reduction Groups and Prisons. We have all referrals for the pilot course and a growing waiting list for places on future courses.18 young adults. 12 weeks. 48 sessions comprising of gym sessions, martial arts classes, nutrition classes, Reiki healing,drug and alcohol classes, group and teamwork activities, self-esteem building and education. This is a huge opportunity to have your company and logo's streamed, beamed and printed worldwide.
Fight Science11th March 2013
Its with great regret that the Academy will not be open tomorrow as planned legally we have to postpone opening till 9th April in order to iron out these problems.
4th March 2013
One week to go! Whoop Whoop Boom.
24th Feb 2013
14 days and the Academy of Hard Knocks is open Breaking The Cycle! Prison is not a revolving door!
21st Feb 2013
Just had some funding turned down then Chris Brown pops in and everything is all good again! No-one said this would be easy and its not its a roller coaster up and downs mainly ups! Stick your funding ill do it without you! Big up Team Brown thanks for your support!
20th Feb 2013
Been a busy few weeks ! We are currently emailing all the big company's asking for help we need donations of: Sports Clothing, Sparring Gloves and Pads, Shin Pads, Skipping Ropes so if any of your sponsors or friends can help ? Get back to me ASAP.
17th Feb 2013
All starts again tomorrow knocking down doors, meets and greets I will get some funding if it kills me. 
10th Feb 2013
We are a new company launching mid march 2013 the website is under construction as is the printing/photos this is going to be free for the kids and we will be relying on funding and fund raising to keep us going. We are launching with a pilot programme to show the powers that be that this can and will work and secure that much needed funding.This pilot scheme will be for Rushmore and Hampshire young people but once fully funded will be for surrey young people. we also have some fund raisers planned over the next few months. We are not in this for profit but to stop the next generation going down the same path which is the revolving door which is prison.

The Academy Of Hard KnocksSo What Is Involved In The Course?

First off commitment. The guys need to commit to 12 weeks for two mornings a week. Not too much to commit too I hear you say and indeed I would agree. But remember why these guys are here in the first place and having spoken to Sam I know it is going to be a busy 12 weeks for the guys. Sam & the team have a no nonsense approach and in this world of not being able to say boo to anyone in case you upset them or children at school having non competitive sports days this makes a refreshing change. Lets not get confused by the difference between expecting someone to do something and bullying. It's all rather simple. No one is forced to attend by the Academy Team and as some of them have spent time in prison themselves can vouch for the fact that being made to go on courses just for the prison to get a tick in their box or parole could be affected by non attendance will certainly get you to attend but as the old saying goes 'you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink'. In turn the prison officers are told by their bosses to get the courses filled and in turn no doubt the prison Governor is directed by someone from the government. However you look at it no one really wins as the figures on re offending show. Having spoken to Sam frequently he and the team will give you all the time you need if you are struggling but if you cannot be bothered then go home and watch the television or whatever you want too do. Resources are thin on the ground so do not waste their time you will be asked to leave. Damn Right. The 12 weeks are progressive with visits from people from various organisations that may be able to help the lads in one way or another but a diet of hard cardio workouts and an hour of Mixed Martial Arts is the basis of the Academy the later giving a sense of self worth and discipline. This is a course run by men's men, no bleeding hearts here. 'Firm but Fair' and with a genuine hope that those on the course will succeed.
How Can I Help?

As you can see the Academy needs all the help it can get so if you can spare a few quid please make a donation as they say every little helps. There are two ways you can help one is by making a donation by going to the Academy on Facebook.

Motivate Me
You can't fail to be motivated by the amount of motivational post the guys put up so here's a few of them to hopefully motivate you to buy a t-shirt or make a donation.

Nick Chapman Sam Rowe speak to Surrey and Berks Media during a recent visit to the Academy of Hard Knocks at Fight Science


Nick Chapman was recently on Kane FM Radio and part of the conversation was about the Academy. You can hear what he had to say over at Kane FM  Kane FM can be found in Guildford and broadcasting to the surrounding area via 103.7FM and through the internet stream; it is also available on I-pad and I-phone.

Like wise Sam spoke to BBC Radio when they visited the Academy so support from the media is there as it is from pretty much everywhere but as things do not move quickly in this country it looks like the next course will be cancelled not due to participants or all the people giving their time to help or even the hard working staff but due to an amount that pales into insignificance when all things are considered. But whatever happen the guys won't give up in their quest for funding.

So Where Does This All Happen?

Nick Head-Hunter Chapman's Gym in Aldershot. Fight Science is one hell of a Gym I can tell you. Here's a small piece I wrote about it after being there for the Women Fight Back Show.

The first thing that you notice about the gym is the size of the building coming in at 20000 square feet packed with state of the art equipment down to the simplest of training aids the punch bags hanging from the walls. The gym is housed in an ex military building in Aldershot, a large military area, and what with cutbacks the army's loss was without a doubt Nick's gain. The full size competition cage down one end just seems to get lost in the expanse of the building, but just in case you don't feel like the rest of the gym watching as you take you first tentative steps into the cage this area can be separated from the rest of the building. Between the cage and the weights area is 6000 square foot of Tatami interlocking jigsaw mats which is can he hired out to local instructors and could easily accommodate two separate classes at once. To Read More Click Here   or view the video below.


12 Weeks Completed

Well done to the lads who have completed the twelve week course your instructors re very proud as are we and everyone else who has paid an interest and seen the ups and downs Sam Rowe has suffered in his attempts to gain funding to at least keep the ball rolling for the next course. This is what Mike Hobson,

Alistair McKenzie-Boyce and Alex Hardy told us.

Name: Mike Hobson

Q/ How did you find the twelve weeks?

A/ At first, painful and tiring, few weeks in was natural to push that bit further and harder.

Q/ Have you been on a similar course to this and if so how do you think the Academy is different?

A/ I haven't and would not do any other course than the one at the Academy.

Q/ How do you feel now it's finished?

A/ I feel like a whole new person, I've been told I'm looking a lot healthier too.

Q/ So what have you got planned for the future?

A/ Anything I can do in and around the Academy and up and coming courses I'm there.

Q/ In One or two words describe what you think of the Academy of Hard Knocks?


Nice one thanks Mike next we ask Alistair the same.

Name: Alistair McKenzie-Boyce 

Q/ How did you find the twelve weeks?

A/ Really good, tiring and helped me a lot.

Q/ Have you been on a similar course to this and if so how do you think the Academy is different?

A/ No.

Q/ How do you feel now it's finished?

A/ I feel like a whole new person.

Q/ So what have you got planned for the future?

A/ To be a fitness instructor and be on the next course to help out.

Q/ In One or two words describe what you think of the Academy of Hard Knocks?

A/ Life Changing.

Name: Alex Hardy

Q/ How did you find the twelve weeks?

A/ I thought it was great. It was hard at times but that was to be expected.

Q/ Have you been on a similar course to this and if so how do you think the Academy is different?

A/ No I haven't.

Q/ How do you feel now it's finished?

A/ Amazing my fitness has improved ten fold.

Q/ So what have you got planned for the future?

A/ I want to go on and do more Mixed Martial Arts and hopefully my potential in the cage.

Q/ In one or two words describe what you think of The Academy Of Hard Knocks

A/ The best thing to happen to me since I left the Army. ( Well that's more than two words but we are happy for you too use as many as you want Jon P )

So there you have it these two guys have committed themselves to twelve weeks and we hope it makes a difference for them and they have our greatest respect here at Cage Amateurs UK.

Academy Contact and Info Web Pages

Main Academy Site 

Fight Science

Sam Rowe On Facebook 

Lee Walker On Facebook

Nigel Whitear On Facebook

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