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Boxer Bullied

by Laurence Chilcott

Suitable for Key Stage 3


To establish that being bullied does not mean you are weak or there’s something with you (SEAL theme 3: Say no to bullying).

Preparation and materials

  • Have available some photos of Joe Calzaghe and the means to display them during the assembly (check copyright).
  • Have available the song ‘We will rock you’ by Queen, ‘Eye of the tiger’ by Survivor or the theme tune from the film Rocky and the means to play it at the end of the assembly.


  1. Thirteen-year-old Joe proudly held the trophy above his head. The crowds were clapping and cheering and Joe was on top of the world – he’d won his first Amateur Boxing Association (ABA) title! He’d been boxing since he was nine and had tremendous talent and potential.

    That was Saturday. By Sunday he was feeling sick and crying at the thought of going to school.

  2. Work too hard for him? Didn’t get on with the teachers? No – he was being bullied. 

    For no reason that he could understand his friends had turned against him and were making his life a misery. For nearly two years, he was teased and taunted, called names and blanked by people he thought were his friends. 

    Sometimes they ganged up on him and, although he could have fought and beaten any one of his tormentors, in a gang they were brave enough to taunt him. 

    Joe turned from a happy, outgoing boy into a withdrawn individual, lacking in confidence and unable to concentrate on his work.

  3. The ‘Joe’ I have been telling you about is Joe Calzaghe, who, in 1995, was named Young Boxer of the Year and, in 2007, was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year. He became a CBE in 2008 and, in 2009, retired as undefeated world super middleweight champion after 46 bouts. 

    When Joe retired, it was 27 years after he had first been bullied, but he never forgot the torment he suffered as a boy. So, when he retired from the ring, he became a patron of the charity BeatBullying. 

    He urges children to speak up and not be embarrassed about asking for help. He had a fearsome reputation as a boxer, but he knows it takes courage to admit that you are being bullied. His experience proves that victims of bullying aren’t weak or useless and it is certainly not their fault.

  4. Bullies are often sad individuals who may envy what others have or can do. They enjoy having power over their victims, but often need the support of a group to enforce it. Nobody really likes them, but they may go along with them because they are afraid of becoming victims themselves. Bullying is never acceptable and no one should feel that they have to accept it.

  5. You can do your part to eradicate bullying from this school by supporting the measures we have in place. If you are bullied, report it. If you witness bullying, report it. If you are a bully, think about why you feel the need to do it; understand, too, that there will be consequences if you continue to do so.

Time for reflection

Although physically tough and courageous, Joe still suffered the fear and anxiety of bullying. Consider the difference between mental and physical toughness and how everyone deep down needs to feel accepted, valued and liked.

Is boxing barbaric and outdated or one of the few remaining sporting contests that truly test the courage, skill and fitness of two evenly matched opponents?

Consider this golden rule: ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you’ (Luke 6.31, NRSV).


Father God, 
Help us today to consider the feelings of others. 
We pray for the courage to speak up if we see bullying taking place and seek help if we are being bullied ourselves. 
Forgive us if there have been times when we have deliberately hurt or upset someone else.
Help us to try and live by the rule Jesus taught us and treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. 


‘We will rock you’ by Queen
'Eye of the tiger’ by Survivor
Theme tune from the film Rocky

Publication date: October 2014   (Vol.16 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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