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Chris and Lincoln standing in a boxing position wearing red sport clothes

Who knew a visit to a local burger restaurant could be so serendipitous for one of St Bart’s consumers?

Chris Rayner had just ordered a burger at Grill’d and was given a bottle cap as part of the franchises’ social enterprise program, where customers can nominate a charity organisation to donate part of the restaurant’s profits to.

As he dropped his cap into one of the three buckets, each representing a different charity and the theme of volunteerism, something changed for Chris.

“It lit a candle in me and I kept thinking about it afterwards,” Chris said.

“I went down a bit of a rabbit hole on Google, trying to manifest something where I could help people and at the same time do something that I felt confident in.”

When Chris came across an advert online for a boxing coach at St Bart’s, he jumped at the opportunity. Already training three times a week and having competed in a couple of amateur fights, it was the perfect fit for Chris. It also touched him on a more personal level, explaining the year of healing he had recently had for himself.

“I found that boxing has been one of the most positive experiences in my life, and the energy I received from my coaches got me through some very difficult times,” he said.

“Normally our bodies are just being dragged around by our brains because we’re always thinking about the future or reliving the past. But in that pure moment of boxing where you’re focused on your breathing, hitting the pads and connecting with another human being, you are absolutely present. That can relieve you of all the stress of the future and all the anxiety of the past, and that creates peace.”

Upon his first introduction to Lincoln, who is a resident at St Bart’s Arnott Community Recovery Village, Chris set the scene by saying they were now part of an exclusive club.

“I said to Lincoln that in order for our club to be a true club, we need to give it a name and that he should have a really good think about what that name should be.

“Without missing a beat, Lincoln said “Red Dragon Boxing!”” Chris said with a laugh.

And so, dressed in red to represent their club’s name, Chris and Lincoln train together every Thursday night. And every week, Lincoln just keeps improving.

“I like the seemingly endless techniques boxing has to offer and the better I get, the more confident I feel if I need to use self-defence,” says Lincoln.

While it is not his first time boxing, Lincoln says it is having a positive impact on his life.

“Chris is a very good influence for me, and it’s given me a reason not to drink so much,” he said.

The respect both men have for each other is mutual, as Chris explains the progress Lincoln has made in their time together so far.

“I’ve worked with a wide range of people and one thing that’s very surprising is Lincoln’s ability to stay out of his comfort zone, and he has grown from it,” he said.

“It’s beautiful to watch. If he’s doing that in boxing one hour a week, that’s starting to have grassroots effects in other areas of his life.”

And the positive impact of these boxing sessions doesn’t stop with Lincoln.

“I can’t really explain the feeling I get out of it, but I’ve never driven away from a session with Lincoln upset, angry or frustrated,” Chris said.

“I always feel euphoric, connected to the universe, and for some reason on Thursday nights I sleep better than I do any other day of the week.”

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