A WORLD-CHAMPION boxer is getting ready for one of the toughest bouts of his life – encouraging young people to knuckle down at college.

North-East boxer and IBM bantamweight world champion Stuart Hall described himself as humbled as he launched a new academy in Darlington today (Tuesday, May 27).

The Stuart Hall Boxing Academy – run in conjunction with the Martin Gray Football Academy and Darlington College – will give youngsters the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the local lad who achieved global success.

The academy, based at Darlington College, will open in September next year and will offer students the chance to study for a BTec Sport course in boxing, which equates to three A-Levels.

Mr Hall said the academy would provide opportunities that were lacking when he was a teenager.

He said: “As a 16-year-old, there was nothing like this for me.

“I loved boxing and without it, I might have taken a different direction.

“Education is the key in everything and I wish someone had drummed that into me when I was younger.”

He added: “The academy is going to let students enjoy boxing, train during the day and then get stuck into their college work.

“They’ll get chance to train with a world champion and they’ll get better at boxing and further their education at the same time.”

The 34-year-old champion took time out from training for an upcoming title fight to launch the academy.

He said: “I’m so humbled to be in this position, from where I was ten years ago to becoming world champion and getting the chance to give something back and help people to further their education.

“I’m going to be as hands-on as possible and it will be brilliant.”