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Navratilova Visits Laureus "Fight Back" Project
Tennis Legend Joins in Self-Defence Program for girls
Martina Navratilova

NEW YORK — Tennis legend Martina Navratilova thrilled an excited audience of children and young adults as she took part in a jiu-jitsu coaching session for at-risk New Yorkers at the award-winning Laureus Sport for Good Foundation Fight Back project in the South Bronx.

The Laureus World Sports Academy member, who has announced she will retire from competitive tennis at the end of the season, was making her first visit to the project which focuses on domestic and gang-related violence in the East Tremont neighbourhood.

Navratilova, who won 58 Grand Slam titles in her career, including 18 singles championships, said: "I could probably play on for another five years if I wanted to, but I don't. It was time to move on to my next life. An important part of that will be my work for Laureus. All the members of the Laureus Academy want to give something back to society and it was uplifting to be here to meet the people who participate in the project and those who donate their time to running it."

Gang violence is prevalent in this area of South Bronx. The main work of the project is to keep children out of gangs and on track with positive alternatives. The support of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation has also enabled the project to start working with abused women, teaching them jiu-jitsu for self-defence. The women, who are generally African–American or Hispanic, are either in low-pay situations or unemployed. The jiu-jitsu classes not only help them acquire vital self-defence skills, they also play an important part in building their self-confidence and giving them a sense of self-respect, which is vital for them to better their situations.

The support of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation has enabled the programme to become a permanent component of the Mary Mitchell Center, which opened in 1997 to honour the legacy of a woman whose devotion in trying to help her community surpassed any normal standards. She welcomed families in need into her home and encouraged children to look beyond the problems surrounding them by engaging in sporting activities. The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation shares her vision that sport has the power to involve and transform communities.

"Mary Mitchell was an extraordinary woman and her legacy in this part of New York is unmatched. It is totally appropriate that Laureus is able to support a project in the facility named after her. It was an emotional day and I was very impressed with the determination of the young women I met and the dedication of the tutors who are coaching and supporting them," said Navratilova.

The long term target for Fight Back is expand its remit and reach out to high school students at risk of dropping out, to teens involved in gangs and violence and to the mobile classes within the shelter system.

The American chapter of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation currently supports two other projects in New York in addition to Fight Back. The After-School All-Stars of NYC offers basketball, volleyball and tae kwan do as alternatives to drug abuse and involvement with gangs and I Challenge Myself is a cycling based project which provides teenagers in deprived communities with opportunities to develop team spirit and improved physical fitness. In Richmond, Virginia, Laureus supports the Midnight Basketball League which tackles drug and crime problems by getting young people off the street and onto the basketball court.

Laureus is a universal movement that celebrates the power of sport to bring people together as a force for good. Laureus is composed of three core elements - the Laureus World Sports Awards, the Laureus World Sports Academy and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation - which collectively celebrate sporting excellence and harness the power of sport to promote social change.

The Laureus World Sports Academy is a unique association of 42 of the greatest living sporting legends who have made exceptional contributions to the world of sport. Its members are: Giacomo Agostini, Severiano Ballesteros, Franz Beckenbauer, Boris Becker, Ian Botham, Sergey Bubka, Bobby Charlton, Sebastian Coe, Nadia Comaneci, Yaping Deng, Kapil Dev, David Douillet, Emerson Fittipaldi, Sean Fitzpatrick, Dawn Fraser, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Tony Hawk, Miguel Indurain, Michael Johnson, Michael Jordan, Kip Keino, Franz Klammer, Dan Marino, John McEnroe, Edwin Moses (Chairman), Nawal El Moutawakel, Robby Naish, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, Jack Nicklaus, Pelé, Gary Player, Morné du Plessis, Hugo Porta, Viv Richards, Monica Seles, Mark Spitz, Daley Thompson, Alberto Tomba, Steve Waugh, Katarina Witt and Yasuhiro Yamashita.

The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation utilises the power of sport to address social challenges through a worldwide programme of sports related community development initiatives. Laureus currently funds over 40 projects worldwide addressing key social issues. Laureus World Sports Academy members act as global ambassadors for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, volunteering their time to visit projects in order to draw attention to the problems afflicting society today

For further information please contact:

Lauren Vierhaus
Head of Global Public Relations
Tel: +44 (0)20 7514 2749
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7514 2782
Email: publicrelations@laureus.com
Photo Archive: www.laureusarchive.com
Website: www.laureus.com




 

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