On the 14th of May, Peter is celebrating his birthday by doing a three rounds boxing to pads challenge to raise money for JRS. We couldn’t help but sit down with Peter to chat and know the story behind his motivation.
So why on your 65th Birthday?
Simply, it seemed like a cheerful idea to do it on a birthday halfway through the sixties, when most people would not think of boxing as an expected sport. And I hoped it would amuse sponsors.
It does sound amusing for sure. So why did you choose to fundraise for JRS?
I am a fellow of the Jesuit College in Oxford, Campion Hall, and I have known former students who have worked with JRS in many different places in the world. I have seen the dedication and compassion of Jesuit friends working with JRS in many places, including Sudan and the Mexican borders. Also, I have been able to discuss the work of JRS in Britain with friends who work directly with the charity. I very much admire the work they do.
Previously, I donated fees for speaking at events or contributed signed books to charity auctions. All what you might call desk-based fundraising, so I am looking forward to this new challenge!
So tell me more about boxing? For how long have you been doing it? You seem like a boxing pro!
Not at all, the boxing is purely for fitness and recreation! I am a Professor of Renaissance and Baroque Studies at Campion Hall and in the Oxford English Faculty. I work mostly on seventeenth-century literature and culture, including Jesuit history and literature. I boxed a very little as a student (45 years ago) but never competitively. When I started regular sessions with a trainer in Oxford, we started throwing in a little boxing to pads, and I enjoyed this so much that we have made it a regular feature.
What are you excited/nervous about in doing this challenge?
Excited to attempt something moderately physically demanding – I do emphasise that this is boxing-to-pads – nobody will get punched! On the other hand, nervous about not training hard enough as I’d like to put up a good show for all those who have so kindly sponsored me.
I am glad to hear that no one will get hurt! Do you plan to do more of these challenges in the future?
I’ll have to consult Matt, my excellent trainer to think of something. Probably something will come up naturally. This challenge started purely as a fitness goal and then developed into this fundraising event.
Let’s talk about the training. How is it going?
Training is going well! Matt, my trainer, is very skilled. He and I have done a fitness training session a week for about the last five years.
During lockdown, when you were allowed to meet one-to-one with a trainer, we started meeting twice a week in the local park in Oxford which is what we still do. (This was very good for my sanity through the pandemic). We do the occasional boxing-only session from time to time. I have a punch bag and weights at home, and I sometimes use the punchbags at the University’s Sports Centre.
Sounds like you’re working hard on training. Well done! Have people around you been supportive?
All colleagues and friends have been very supportive. I thought there would be more amusement and scepticism at someone my age trying to get fit enough to box, but just about everyone has responded with enthusiasm and warmth. I sometimes encounter the real boxers at the Sports Centre and they’re pretty encouraging too. The good response from colleagues and friends is I think partly that the work of JRS is quite well known and is seen as an excellent charity to be supporting.
That is good to hear! And how have you found the fundraising process?
The fundraising process is going smoothly, Just Giving is very efficient and people have been kind in passing on the link to the Just Giving page. I must say I’m astonished at the amount raised, and the page is linked to the college community now, and they’re generous people. If we can make the £1000 I’d be so happy!
I am sure you’ll do great and go over the £1000! Anything else you would like to add?
Not really. this is a very low-key thing really, but it has amused friends and colleagues. I have certainly found that all attempts to stay reasonably fit in my sixties have been very worthwhile!
Peter training for the challenge, London
Peter Davidson will be fundraising for JRS UK. The money he raise will help JRS to continue to accompany destitute and detained refugees in a spirit of hospitality, welcome and love. Visit his fundraising page and help him reach his fundraising target.