MARTIN Murray hopes his plans for an academy are set to go to the full distance after receiving a major boost from a local businessman.

The ex-boxer, a five-time world title contender, told the Star earlier this year of his long-time dream to launch the ThinkFAST academy to offer high quality social support and development to the most hard-to-reach young people of St Helens would become a reality.

Murray, who grew up in Fingerpost, has drawn deeply on his own troubled youth to set up an academy based at the Wildcard boxing gym in Parr.

The primary aim is for it to guide youngsters in danger of going off the rails back on to the right path.

St Helens Star: Mr Mikhail managed Murray during the fighter's career

Murray's ambitions have been handed a significant boost thanks to a £5,000 donation from close friend Andrew Mikhail, chairman of Mikhail Hotel and Leisure Group which owns well known venues The Eccleston Arms in St Helens, Punch Tarmey’s, Doctor Duncan’s and ArCains in Liverpool and The Bold Hotel, Southport.

Mr Mikhail, who is recovering after being seriously ill with Covid earlier this year, has known of Martin’s dreams of starting the academy for many years and was delighted when he learned the plans are heading towards fruition.

Mr Mikhail said: “When the call came from Martin that he was launching the academy I was over the moon.

St Helens Star: The pair following one of Martin's triumphds

"Myself, and I’m sure many others that grew up in St Helens only wish that something like this was available when we were youngsters and wanted to offer my support to make Martin’s dream a reality.

"I strongly believe that Martin is the right man to make that difference in so many lives.

"A quote that I came across recently springs to mind ‘Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe its about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place’.

"The ThinkFAST Academy, I’m certain, is the place that will help many youngsters to overcome adversity to become the person that they are meant to be”.

The £5,000 donation from Mr Mikhail is one of a number of generous donations made by locals in support of The Academy.

Speaking about the response since the announcement of his plans Murray said: “I have been overwhelmed by the response from the people of St Helens, not only the support from those looking to sponsor the plans, including my dear friend Andrew Mikhail, but more so from those wanting help from The ThinkFAST Academy.

He said: “We have had hundreds of potential candidates put forward from not only local schools but from the engagement team at Merseyside Police and Commissioner’s Office also from St Helens Council.

"We will help as many youngsters as we possibly can and will try to make a difference in their lives”.

For more details of the ThinkFast Academy visit