UNDOUBTEDLY, the Martin Murray of 2022 is a role model.

But, not long retired from an illustrious boxing career, it could have all been so different for the Fingerpost-born five-time world title contender.

Because the Martin Murray of 20 years ago was far from a role model.

As a young man, he served four separate prison terms for robbery, street brawls and being caught carrying drugs in Cyprus.

Thankfully, the now 39-year-old was able to turn his life around – and he is hoping to inspire teenagers in the town who are at risk of going down the wrong path as he did to stay on the straight and narrow.

St Helens Star: Martin Murray and Roberto Garcia  Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Murray fighting Roberto Garcia in 2018 - picture by PA

Martin said: “I was never a bad lad, but I got involved in crime and went to prison four times. I made some terrible life choices.

“I got expelled from school and I was always up to mischief. I was brought up on a council estate where I was taught that the police were bad and getting a criminal record was good.

“You’re brought up in an environment where you’re trying to impress your peers by getting a criminal record, getting a caution and going to the police station and it’s all wrong.

“This is about trying to help in as many ways as we can to get people to choose the correct pathway in life.

“It’s about giving these kids the tools to make those positive life choices.

“The temptations are too easy, and one stupid decision can impact you for the rest of your life.

“Awareness and prevention are better than the cure, and the idea is to help these young people as much as we can.

“A bad start doesn’t always have to mean a bad ending and they can change if they really want to.”

Fittingly, boxing is the key to Martin’s Think Fast Academy.

The programme first launched in his hometown of St Helens in November last year and – working with Merseyside Police and St Helens Council – delivers educational sessions on subject matter including knife crime, county lines drug trafficking, domestic violence and drug and alcohol awareness alongside the sporting element.

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Now the scheme is expanding into Warrington, opening at the new Warrington Youth Zone in September.

Martin and wife Gemma’s brainchild was first birthed in 2008, but the idea had to be put on hold due to his blossoming sporting career.

Now, following his retirement in 2020, he is able to devote a good chunk of his time to the passion project.

“It’s the exact same model that we designed back in 2008 and it’s still needed now,” Martin says. “It’s just gone from strength to strength and we’re seeing the positive impact that it’s having.

“There is so much work going on.

“What we’re teaching these kids is not only for now, it’s for later in life as well.

“It might only come to fruition in four, five or six years’ time but at least we’re making them aware of the potential dangers and the lifestyle they could end up leading.

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“We’re trying to break the cycle.

“For example, a lot of kids are being brought up in domestic violence and they think it’s normal.

“They then bring their own kids up in an environment of domestic violence.

“Warrington is very close to my heart, and we know this is needed here.

“It’s definitely going to benefit loads of young people in the area.

“We would like to thank Warrington Borough Council, the youth zone and Derek and Mandy Groarke from the Hook and Jab Boxing Gym in Latchford for their support."

Think Fast Academy is already bearing fruit, and Martin gushes with pride when he speaks about one graduate by the name of Gavin ‘the Dominator’ Hibbert.

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The troubled London youth found himself in a secure unit in St Helens after a series of brushes with the law in the capital, but is now gearing up for his first amateur fight thanks to his help.

“We’ve got so many success stories,” the dad adds.

“It’s challenging at times, but it’s so rewarding.”

Of Gavin, Martin said: “He was involved in crime and his social workers were scared for his life.

“Now he’s completely changed his life.

“It’s worth it just for that. It feels good to give back.

“You’re not going to save everybody, just like you’re never going to stop all crime.

“But at least you can do your little bit to help people and make them change their ways.”

For more information on how to get involved or to sponsor Think Fast Warrington, email info@thinkfast.academy.