Craig’s got mental health ‘on the ropes’ with boxing and wellbeing support

Craig McLundie from University of Northampton's ASSIST team is training with The Frank Bruno Foundation for a fundraising boxing match in April.
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A University of Northampton staff member is preparing to square up to the biggest challenge of his life – stepping into the ring for a charity boxing match.

Craig McLundie is a Disability Support Advisor within ASSIST (Additional Student Support & Inclusion Services Team) at UON. Craig’s worked in the service for the past seven years: “I have a direct, student-facing role as I support students with a disability or other additional needs to overcome any challenges they might have in accessing their studies.

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“University is a huge step for lots of people, none more so than for students with a disability. ASSIST are there to help put reasonable adjustments in place to make everything a bit smoother for them. We have a fantastic and very experienced team.”

Craig McLundie (on the left) during trainingCraig McLundie (on the left) during training
Craig McLundie (on the left) during training

But during the Covid pandemic, Craig was the one in need of advice and support when his wellbeing took a tumble. He found helping hands from a local mental health through boxing charity.

Craig continues: “My mental health suffered a lot after I caught Covid in January 2021. For the next two years, I was in and out of work for some time. I’m used to signposting students to mental health support and talk with my friends about theirs so up until catching Covid, I thought I was a good talker.

"But when your life deteriorates, your default can be to keep quiet, hide things from people and try to sort it out yourself. Which is what I did; the physician did not heal himself.

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“I’d been thinking about how sport could help me, and a family member mentioned the Frank Bruno Foundation. Even though I’d never tried boxing before, it offered me what I needed, so I self-referred to them in June last year.”

Craig has been training for several months at the Foundation, that provides a programme of exercise, advice and coaching for people struggling with their mental health and/or might be at risk of gang and crime influence.

Craig has not looked back since signing up with them in June last year. He trains with them and on his own up to four times a week; some sessions last up to three hours. A dedicated student, he also scrutinises videos of different boxing techniques and is reading up on battle strategies.

His training has been going so well Craig has signed up to the Foundation’s fundraising ‘fight night’ on Saturday 5 April at The Deco Theatre in Northampton.

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Craig adds: “I am definitely getting fitter. My hand speed has really developed, and at 46, I feel in the best physical shape of my life.

“I was initially hesitant about signing up for the fight night, but I needed a goal to push myself, something to strive toward. I will have one fight with three rounds, each lasting up to two minutes, so I hope to go the full distance!

“The biggest thing I have learned from the ups and downs I’ve got through is that you are never alone. Someone is always there for you, although you might not know it. I hope to give something back to a charity that was there for me when I needed it.”

Donations made to Craig’s Justgiving account for the Frank Bruno Foundation go directly to the Foundation. Email Craig on [email protected] for tickets to see him fight.