King of the ring (almost)! Prince William meets 'really impressive' female amateur boxer during a visit to a youth charity in Swindon… but chickens out of showing off his southpaw

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  • The Prince of Wales, 41, visited BEST – Be a Better You in Swindon 
  • READ MORE: Apple CEO Tim Cook meets the Prince and Princess of Wales at Windsor Castle (and he even brings some goody bags with him!)

Prince William met with amateur boxers at a charity in Swindon this afternoon – but he stopped short of getting in the ring.

The Prince of Wales, 41, toured Swindon based charity BEST – Be A Better You, which was set up in 2020 by a local father Don Bryden, after his daughter became exposed to criminal exploitation.

Don set up the charity to provide a positive experience for young people with different social, emotional, and mental health barriers, in order to help them take the necessary steps to lead a successful life.

During the visit, he met Don’s daughter Jess to hear about her personal story. Jess was demonstrating a sparring session – and although he didn’t put the gloves on himself, the Prince of Wales said her work was ‘very quick’.

He also pledged his support to efforts to stop youngsters turning to knife crime as he visited an anti-youth violence charity today.

The Prince of Wales happily posed for photos with a volunteer at the charity, which is based in Swindon

The Prince of Wales happily posed for photos with a volunteer at the charity, which is based in Swindon

Prince William said Jess was 'impressive' as he got to know her at the charity's hub in Swindon

Prince William said Jess was ‘impressive’ as he got to know her at the charity’s hub in Swindon

It comes after 15-year-old Elianne Andam was stabbed to death in Croydon, south London, the latest tragic young casualty of an escalation of violence on the nation’s streets.

A 17-year-old boy has been charged with murder and possession of a knife and remanded in custody after appearing in court.

The future king was visiting BEST – Be A Better You – which provides sports training and one-to-one mentoring to keep teenagers and young adults out of trouble. The visit had been arranged before Wednesday’s attack. 

Parents Don Bryden, and Sarah Bryden, 52, set up the charity in 2020 after their daughter, Jess, became exposed to criminal exploitation.

William, 41, spoke to the 18-year-old, now a promising young female boxer, who described to the prince how turned her back on County Lines gangs.

Jess Bryden told the royal how she descended in a life of drugs, violence and crime and ended up being exploited by the vile gangs when she was just 13-years-old.

But thanks to help from her parents, she turned her life around and now trains with the UK’s top boxers in Sheffield and hopes to fight in the Olympics one day.

The prince, after watching 18-year-old Jess practicing in the ring, declined the chance to spar with her saying Jess could win with ‘one hand tied behind her back’

The charity was founded by Don Bryden (right) in 2020 after his daughter was exposed to criminal exploitation

The charity was founded by Don Bryden (right) in 2020 after his daughter was exposed to criminal exploitation

The Prince of Wales posed for selfies while visiting the charity which provides mental health support to young people

The Prince of Wales posed for selfies while visiting the charity which provides mental health support to young people

Meeting Jess, a young female boxer who has been helped by the charity, Prince William said she was 'very impressive'

Meeting Jess, a young female boxer who has been helped by the charity, Prince William said she was ‘very impressive’

Jess took part in a sparring session to show how she has benefitted from the charity's one-to-one coaching programmes

Jess took part in a sparring session to show how she has benefitted from the charity’s one-to-one coaching programmes 

‘You’re very quick, I’ll be out of breath,’ he remarked. ‘My boxing is nothing like that. I don’t box. I’m happy just chatting with you to be honest. Hopefully if I talk to you long enough I don’t have to go into the ring.’

He asked her how she had transformed her life from ‘being rock bottom to now’ and he hailed her journey out of crime as being ‘very impressive’.

He said: ‘You have to be willing to want to do it yourself.’ Jess boxes out of Scrappers ABC gym but also trains with other Olympic and amateur hopefuls at Britain’s boxing HQ in Sheffield.

She relayed her emotional story to the prince and described how her father’s charity changed her life around.

The teenager was rescued after suffering an overdose and sectioned for mental health, before moving away from Swindon for nine months to get clean and then took up boxing.

Team photo! William took centre stage in a snap of staff and volunteers at BEST - Be a Better You

Team photo! William took centre stage in a snap of staff and volunteers at BEST – Be a Better You

She said afterwards: ‘I was mixed up in the wrong crowd and one thing led to another and I was taking drugs, started fighting, and involved in crime and criminal gangs. I was vulnerable and had no idea what I was involved in. It escalated.’

She now mentors for the charity set up by her father to divert youths from crime.

She added: ‘It’s a lot harder these days for kids. I believe if you have a good, strict upbringing and parents are there to support you, that can help a lot.’

Jess’ father, Don, said afterwards that Britain was suffering a ‘knife crime pandemic’.

‘I told the prince I was determined Jess would not be collateral damage,’ he explained. ‘We spoke in depth about what the country is lacking is respect and morals.‘

‘The prince spoke to the team and Jess about what brings individuals to become what we are trying to change which goes back to respect, honour and morals.‘

BEST supports local young people through mentoring, sports coaching and education programmes which help young people who are involved in areas including crime and gang violence take the necessary steps to improve their life.

William also paused to chat to boxing mentor Sam Stoddart, 32, who has a prosthetic leg after losing his left lower limb stepping on a mine in Afghanistan in 2012 while serving with the King’s Royal Hussars.




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