Otis Williams,33 co-founder of Elympia Gym based in Ely, Cardiff has launched, GLOVES UP,
KNIFES DOWN. A fundraising initiative aimed at giving disadvantaged 16-30 years olds the
opportunity to escape their destructive lifestyles through fitness and well-being.
GLOVES UP KNIFES DOWN is an intense 10-week transformation programme comprising of
up to 4 training sessions per week hosted at Elympia Fitness and will culminate in a white
collar boxing match. The programme has been devised by top fitness and well-being
coaches with support from professional boxer, Nathan Thorley and local boxing club Caerau
ABC. The initiative will aim to engage and unite disadvantaged youths through a sport they
can relate too, boxing.
Otis Williams said: “Ely is renowned as one of the most deprived areas in Cardiff yet there
are so many organisations and individuals making a difference in the area and we are proud
to be one of them. Elympia is the only full-service independent gym in Ely, offering the
community essential fitness facilities. We are in the fortunate position to make an impact
and GLOVES UP, KNIFES DOWN has been developed to encourage respect in the
Otis left Cantonian High School in 1998 with no qualifications or plan of what he wanted to
do next. He started going down the wrong path to lack of focus and direction, leading him to
a lifestyle of petty crimes and dead-end labouring jobs before finding his calling with
Otis continued: “I myself was a young offender and was always in trouble with the police. I
am not proud of my past but it was a lifestyle that isn’t uncommon on council estates across
South Wales, what’s important is giving people opportunities to change this destructive
pattern. My perspective started to change 7 years ago when I lost a close friend, Karina
Menzes due to a tragic car accident. I set up a local committee to raise money for her young
family she left behind, our fundraising efforts were hugely successful and for the first time in
my life I felt a valued and a sense of accomplishment. People have always been my passion
and I love music and culture, so bringing communities together is a natural progression for
The programme will target local Ely youths and provide them with education that isn’t on
the national curriculum or offered in their often-broken homes. It will include, drugs and
alcohol awareness, confidence and team building, purpose and self-worth workshops as
well as top fitness classes, one-to-one nutrition advice and boxing training. The programme
will gear up the Gloves Up, Knifes Down participants to compete in a glamourous evening of
white-collar boxing on Saturday 30 th November 2019. Ticket proceeds from the event will be
reinvested into community programmes, improving gym facilities and hosting self-defence
and anti-knife crime programmes at the gym.
Based on Cowbridge Road West, Ely, Elympia Gym was established in June 2015 and offers 5,000 sq. ft of gym space, including state-of-the-art equipment, two large classrooms and
changing facilities. Memberships are affordably priced and start from £15 a month, a range
of free well-being and fitness classes are on the timetable, aimed at promoting wellness in
Otis Williams continued: “Its never too late to change, the local gym I trained at was
rundown and at threat of closing so when they offered me the opportunity to get involved I
spoke to a good friend, Wesley Burt who said he’d support in in the acquisition. We haven’t
looked back since! Running a business doesn’t come without its challenges, never even
thought I’d say I’m ‘running a business!’ but I feel my ‘street smarts’ and willingness to
succeed have brought a lot to the table. We’re constantly developing and investing in the
gym’s services and facilities. We’ve also had to win over the hearts and minds of the locals
who didn’t welcome a busy gym on their doorstep at first.
This initiative will hopefully improve the lifestyle choices of some local offenders and also
allow us to continue to realise our ambitions of growing a successful gym that is accessible
to the entire community.”
Anyone aged 16-40 from any area (not just Ely) will be eligible to sign up. The programme will commence on 16th September but you can enter any time up to 30th September, and you will be training with specialist coaches such as Nathan Thorley, John & Joe Smith, Barry Francis, Carl Pika, Monique Bux and Chris Ware to name a few. Please note; spaces are limited, sign up does not guarantee a space, individuals will be advised if the application is successful.
To register your interest and sign up for this event, please complete the form below.