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Ahead of Kiyan Prince Foundation’s celebrity Champions Cup Mark Prince says “if the government’s not going to support us fight serious violence (knife crime), then we’re going to call on the celebs”

Ahead of Kiyan Prince Foundation’s celebrity Champions Cup Mark Prince says “if the government’s not going to support us fight serious violence (knife crime), then we’re going to call on the celebs”

Dr Mark Prince OBE has hanged up his boxing gloves, but he has another fight on his hands one which is very close to his heart, fighting serious violence amongst young people that can lead to knife crime resulting in injury, death, and criminalization. The ex-boxing champion who had 23 wins, only professional defeat was suffered contesting the WBO light-heavyweight world title in 1998, is a well-known advocate against serious violence in the UK and has been working tirelessly to reduce knife crime and violence long before losing his footballer son Kiyan Prince who was stabbed and killed in 2006 at just 15 years old. 17 years on from Kiyan’s death Prince voices his disappointment at the alarming rate young men, predominately young black men are still dying from a stabbing and the lack of any real commitment to eradicate the violence by the government.

Kiyan Prince: talented player for QPR’s under 16’s

He states. “The government don’t have a strategy or a plan. They do not have a vision when it comes to reducing serious youth violence. Not knife crime because knives don’t commit crimes, it’s serious youth violence”.  He asks. “What would they do if MPS were being stabbed at the same rate, what legislation would be put in place?”

The approach he takes in his work with young people at the Foundation is based on the theory that violence is primarily a social problem and that it can be tackled by developing strong social relationships, learning, and educating young people on their “value” systems and he encourages young people to utilize their own potential something he learnt at a young age. Disgruntled on how the narrative is played out in the media he says. “It’s a mental issue. It’s something that begins in the mind, and it’s rooted in what’s going on in the person’s life. So based on that, that’s how it should be reported. So, people are not looked at as just horrible, nasty murderers”.  The Kiyan Prince Foundation was established in 2008 in memory of Kiyan Prince. In 2019 Prince was awarded an OBE in recognition of the significant contribution to the community and fight against knife crime.

ALT taught up with Prince ahead of the upcoming Kiyan Prince Foundation Champions Cup match on 20th May 2023 which is raising funds for the charity, helping to support thousands of young people.  

Tickets for the event are on sale here prices start at £10 for children.

ALT A: How did you find sport or did sport find you?


My dad in a word. I’ve been told that we’ve got genetics in our family, whether you want to believe that kind of thing or not, but there’s an element of truth to that because my dad was a professional boxer. He came over in the Windrush and obviously faced all those challenges that our parents faced at that time in the sixties, fifties. He had a mindset whereby his children needed to take care of themselves and that meant even my big sister, who’s the oldest, and then there’s my older brother, me in the middle, and then my younger brother. So, he wanted us to take care of ourselves, knowing that it could be dangerous out there. There was still Mods and skinheads, and those things were still going on.

Winning smile………..

You could walk down the road and they would shout N_ _ _ _ _ _ and W_ _ go back to your own country. That was like standard growing up. So my dad trained us in the garden. It was a part of life growing up, basically just coming home from school. And my dad would say, put on your clothes, follow me. Because my dad was still running up hills at Alexander Palace, he always wanted to keep fit. I knew sports at home before I even really knew sports at school. I knew that what my dad was making me do at home was having an impact on my performance at school. I found I was always in number one, two or third position at any given sport no matter what it was. I was always used to winning or coming in the top three in sports. I really loved sports growing up and loved it didn’t matter what physical activity, it was my thing.


What were some of the values that were installed in you as an athlete how was that juxta positioned with what your parents taught you. Was there things that you learned about yourself and values that you got just through being in professional sport?

A force for good…


Well, that’s an interesting question because that leads me to thinking about being at a young age and not realizing what values are being taught at that age. And that’s why sports is so important for young people. Because it does add value to their character and their attitude. I didn’t want to go out running with my dad, but I went, and it showed me that I was competitive, because in my mind I didn’t want to lose to my dad, I needed to keep up. My mind was developing and I was setting standards for myself from a young age where I had to be good. I had to step up, I had to push harder. I had to exert myself and make an effort if I wanted to do well in anything. And I think those are some of the early stages of character building that sport did for me.

Including self-sacrifice and discipline I had to get up in the morning and be disciplined. And if my dad said we had to get up and do a hundred press-ups when we woke up in the morning I would. I think those things were instilling discipline in us, whether we liked it or not. And what we did like was the outcome we saw we were stronger. We saw that physically we looked like we were built. So, there were rewards for it as well. We were really healthy kids; sport helps combat obesity. So mentally it was having an impact on us and outwardly it was as well. I could see that it developed character in me.

But obviously I didn’t recognize it until later. I didn’t get into boxing until I was 21, which is a huge gap because I ran away from home at 15 and then I was on doing drugs and crazy things till about 21. So I had like a six year gap of not performing, not taking care of myself, abusing my body due to my mindset not being right and due to still feeling hurt and confused about certain things growing up. Yeah. there was that there was that gap that could have ruined everything.

Family man: With daughter and wife

ALT: What was the turning point?


My children, I had Tannisa and I had Kiyan. Tannisa was three years old. Kiyan was just born. I just started asking myself some questions like what you are doing, are you proud of it? You can make money, but are you happy with your life right now? Could you proudly share with your children what you are doing in your life? And could you live by example? And all those questions made my head go down because I wasn’t pleased with myself. And I was getting the “results”, but it didn’t feel right because I was not using any values . Where were the values I was brought up with like being kind to people, adding value to my community. What I was doing was not conducive to a positive mindset. So, I decided to change, and I asked myself what can I do? And I kind of looked at university, I looked at getting a job and for some reason it did not fit or appeal to me. And I thought what have I got? What can I do?

I’m always a great believer in what young people can do then for them to utilize that. I could fight but I had never fought in a real Queensbury rule setting (boxer prohibited from hitting below the belt), but I could fight. I was taught how to from a young age. I knew that was completely different from going in the ring. I’m fighting somebody who’s training to fight you, but I just believed that that was the route for me. And so I went down that route and began the journey of finding out what I needed to do to become a professional boxer and a champion. I saw it in my heart and mind that I was going to be a champion.

Writing: Debut book:  Story of pain and hope. A story of fighting to save young lives…


What has been some of the highlights of this journey and what have you been most proud of in terms of your achievements?


That’s a really good question. I’m really proud of the fact that I had that conversation with myself. That is a massive achievement, now it’s weird that people would look oh all these achievements, but what’s something that is a proud moment? The reason why that’s a proud moment is because on this journey, I’ve realized that people find it hardest, it is the toughest thing to face yourself and ask yourself really tough questions and answer those questions and act upon it. Getting information and to act upon that information leads them to a change of life. So I’m really proud of myself as it was one of my greatest achievements, to look myself in the mirror and be able to ask tough questions and make changes. It was difficult changes because drugs and drink was a big part of my life, anger was as well.

Like not being able to get over the fact that I got treated the way I did. And being able to overcome that. I’m really proud that over the years I’ve always decided to face that anger and I faced it with forgiveness and also to forgive and free myself. I’m really proud of my children. The fact that I brought up children. As a young dad at 18 I did not deny my responsibilities as a parent. That would have been easy to do, especially in the time I was growing up. With a lot of the young dads, you would find moms complaining that dads weren’t picking up the children if they separated or if they were in the household, they were not contributing and helping out with the kids.

Proud moments: Prince with his mother getting the OBE in 2019

I was quite the opposite. Whether I was with the mother of my children or not, I was a massive part of my kids’ life. And even when I started boxing and I had this really busy lifestyle, I made time for my children. So, there was an allocated time that I would be spending with them, I’m really proud of being a dad and seeing them now grown up and being able to have a good relationship with them. I’ve got other great moments like when I was told that I should not be in the ABAs, which was the biggest amateur competition in the country, and I should go into the novices because I haven’t gotten that experience.

The most experienced guys were in the ABA’s, the top 10 in the world, in this country. But I decided I wanted to face them and to face those guys and stop them, knock them out. That was an incredible achievement for me. So I had some really exciting nights at the York Hall, the famous boxing venue. I had some awesome nights there winning the London Title. Beating Monty Wright, who was tipped to win the light heavyweight division competition. He was looked at as one of the best guys and I put him flat out sleeping. Winning my first title which was a WBO intercontinental against number one in the country at the time, which was Maurice (Hard) Core from Manchester. That was a massive moment in my life.

Getting the OBE, being able to walk with my mom into Buckingham Palace and my mom had never visited those sites. Tourists has probably seen more of London and England than my mum had. She’s had just been working hard all these years. That’s what our parents found they were doing. So, I was really proud to tick that box with my mom and she got to go in and sit down and watch her son get the OBE. Another amazing moment for me was being a speaker and inviting my mom to come to see me talk, seeing how her son had grown from seeing me in the depth of my grief which was so painful for her.

I remember her getting up one day and shaking her head like she couldn’t take it anymore. The noise that was coming out of me after I lost my son, the grief, the sounds, it was broke my mom’s heart. I’m really proud that I reversed that, and my mom to have shared my joyful days, obviously little did I know how much longer she was going to be here. She was gone in 2020 from cancer. I was happy to have shared those moments with her and why because my mom’s so important for me in my career. She was always that rock, she was solid. And I think that’s where I get a lot of my solidness from.

I remember there’s a little story with my niece, her mom died, and she was just locked off in bed crying, just a mess for a long time. And it went on for so long. And my mom went in there one day and said Casey you have to go and hang out your clothes. And Casey was breaking down and talking about her mom and then my mom said, I know babe, but you still have to go and hang out your clothes. And that was really powerful for me cause that demonstrated everything that my mom was about because whatever struggles she went through, she continued moving and getting things done. And I think that showed up in my life, whatever happens in my life I continue moving forward and continue getting things done.

Awarded getting the OBE in 2019


How has the Kiyan Prince Foundation helped you in terms finding some comfort in what happened?


First I’m not sure if I have found comfort in the work I do with the Foundation. It’s really challenging work that puts you out of your comfort zone. That work hurts, I talk about things that happened with my son that leave me breaking down sometimes in front of audiences. I have to keep bringing up the subject whether I like to bring up the subject or not. So I’m not sure if it brings comfort, but what it does do, as I said before, there’s a job to be done and I’m doing it in the name of my son Kiyan. And what we need is a lot more Kiyan Princes and a lot less to Hannad Hassan. So basically, because there’s work to be done and there’s very few workers doing it and creating the results that are needed, I need to get to task.

So, my aim is to do just that. Create a lot more Kiyans that care about people and that are focused on utilizing their gifts and their talents.  I see my son as a future champion. When God makes something, nothing is useless. Everyone has a purpose and everything I look at around me has a purpose. Based on that believe I need to go out and share that with young people, so they know who they are, they need identity, and they need to know that they have purpose. And I shared that with my son Kiyan he followed that believe and applied that understanding and he was becoming one of the best. And because of his kind nature he wanted to break up a fight, but he lost his life based on the fact that some people believe you can carry knives and use them. So it’s our job to educate those young people so they can know their identity, know they have purpose, and it isn’t to kill another human being. So that’s really what brings me comfort is regardless of how I feel that day or whatever given day I’m still moving forward focused on the aims and the goals and the vision. That’s what brings me comfort, that I’m not allowing anything to stop me.


Do you think the government is doing enough or this country’s doing enough?


So I don’t think it’s about doing enough. I think it’s about doing the right thing. The government don’t have a strategy or a plan. They do not have a vision when it comes to reducing serious youth violence. Not knife crime because knives don’t commit crime, it’s serious youth violence. So we’ve got to start readdressing how we even look at this issue and stop using their narrative and actually start tackling the issue from the root of the problem. Then we’re gonna start getting somewhere we haven’t got anywhere because we want to mess around with buzzwords and all these things and report it in a way that it doesn’t need to be reported.

It’s a mental issue. It’s something that begins in the mindset and it’s rooted to what’s going on in the person’s life. So based on that, that’s how it should be reported. So people aren’t looked at as just horrible, nasty murderers, but we’re looking at the root of the problem. And then we get to see what we need to do to tackle this disease. That’s not how the government are approaching this issue. So that is why, how many years later after my son died that children are still dying at an alarming rate. And when you strip back everything and ask them real questions, do you really care? And if you do, how do you demonstrate that? And that goes to from the Mayor Sadiq right down to all the other areas of government that should be dealing with this.


And do you think perhaps this thing about do you really care might come down to who the victims are perhaps?

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Let’s be real about it is got nothing to do with might. It’s everything. I stood up at an event with lots of politicians in the room and I said, I wonder how you would respond to this if this was an epidemic of MPs being stabbed at the same rate that our children are being stabbed, the place exploded from other people in the room but obviously not the MPs. And it was something to think about because what would you do if MPS were being stabbed at that rate, what legislation would you put in place? What changes would happen if this was going on with MPS at the same alarming rate that our children lose their lives. The most precious treasure that we have is our children because they are the men and women of tomorrow. So we can’t overlook this, we can’t undermine this issue and just think, we’ll just keep saying we’re throwing money at it. You keep throwing money at a sinking business, then your money sinks with the business. So, you are going to keep throwing money at this problem, it has not improved but Sadiq says he has spent millions. So, they are saying it costs 1 million to put someone through a murder trial. Okay, the Foundation has never had a million, we’ve had very little money and we put loads of young people in a process of learning, understanding. And they’ve changed. So, what could we do with the million that goes towards putting children through a murder trial when we could save so many more children from going through murder trials if we had that money, if we could collaborate with other organizations that are working towards the same aims and goals, we could build something really powerful.

Every area of the Kiyan Prince Foundation has this blueprint, has this model that helps and, proves that it reduces serious youth violence within that Borough. They’ve got guys that doing research, do the research but let us produce the goods, but we need the revenue to do that. The football match is about us starting this journey where we’re like, okay, we’ve had enough. Yeah, we’ve impacted all those lives, but we need to tackle the problem and we need the right people doing it. And if the government’s not going to support us to make this happen, then we’re going to call out the celebs. We’re going to call out people of influence. And then that’s gonna make everybody wake up and say, wait a minute, how can we just read the paper about this young guy being stabbed and put the paper down and get on with our day? That’s somebody in your community’s life that will never be the same again. And this is because a child had a knife and believed it was okay to use it on another child.


Talking about celebrity, can we talk about the football match quickly?


I decided we needed to put this event on, and we need to have people of influence involved making a statement. We need to make a statement and to let everybody know that this is a serious issue to us. And I don’t think that’s been said because everyone’s quiet. So let’s not be quiet anymore about it. Let’s all scream from the rooftops. We want to change this situation. So that’s been done by putting this event together. We’re remembering not only Kiyan on his 17th anniversary, but we’re remembering all the other young people that have been killed because no actions has been taken, a strategic plan hasn’t been created.

Support: With Harry Redknapp

That’s why this is still going on at an alarming rate. At the football match we want people to come and enjoy the evening. Come and see the people that you don’t normally see in the setting that you don’t normally see them in. Enjoy the fun for the day, bring the family. And even though it’s for something that’s sad, I’ve always focused on the positive. So it’s about turning situations that are very negative into a positive thing. Some of the people that are attending can also be inspired in their life because everyone’s going through stuff, let’s be real. The event actually lifts your spirit because we’ll be addressing some of these things so everybody attending can remember what this is about. This isn’t just to see a celebrity that you like kick a ball and score a goal.

All star line up……..

We are going to showing a short video clip. We’re gonna maybe educate the crowd a little bit and then we can go into the various different fun things we have planned. Yes it’s really about raising money, we want to sell out 1800 seater and I think it’s important that Queens Park Rangers fans show up because they voted for the Kiyan Prince Foundation to have the naming rights of that stadium which has never been done before. So what they showed is how much they value Kiyan Prince’s life. And we need them to show that again by making that day look like a sell-out football day. Because they’re celebrating one of their own. So, I’m hoping that queens Park Rangers fans will make it difficult for everyone else to get tickets to sit down. Because they love Kiyan Prince so much and don’t want to forget him on the 17th anniversary. We have amongst the players Russel Howard, Kojo, James English, Harvey, David Harewood, Mo Gillingham Charlotte Lynch to name a few.


What would you say to a young person out there who could potentially be involved in knife crime?

I would say to every young person, begin to think about your actions and change shoes. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and go home afterwards. If you have the ability to, if you’d survive the stabbing, go through the steps in the process and then come back and tell me if that’s what you want. Go through the process of letting your mom find out, her getting a phone call and hearing you’ve been stabbed dead or through the process of your friends and the community hearing and finding out. Go through that and come back and tell me if you’re just as excited as you are when you were involved in it. Or just the thought of it. Some kids make the threat. I’m gonna shank him, I’m shank gonna him. Really, how does that process go? And I want you to take yourself through that pathway, then come back to me and let’s say afterwards you get caught.

Most of these young people get caught. After you get caught. Take me through the process of what happens to you. Because sometimes we forget, there’s two sides to this. There’s the Kiyan Prince side the victim and his death, and then there’s Hannad Hasan’s side, the perpetrator. Where’s he, what’s happening with him all these years? He’s been in jail. What’s going on through his head? How’s his development? Has he got any dreams of goals? What’s happened to his life? And when he comes out, what does he do?  How does he pick up? How does he move forward? Does he get deported? There are loads of stuff to think about and you’ve never thought about it before. So I would ask every young person who’s got friends involved, who are thinking about picking up a knife to defend themselves for whatever reason. I would ask you to take yourself through the process of thinking about how this goes, the reality of it. Come back and tell me if you excited about the results and if that’s something that you still want to do.

ALT: A final quick question how do young people get involved in the foundation?


Schools normally contact us. I run a community motivational boxing session twice a week. We go into schools and do talks to the young people and they’re really powerful. We listen, we get into young people’s lives, into their issues and problems. And it’s not focused around knife crime. Its focus is about their everyday lives. Because you don’t come up and decide to get into serious youth violence. You don’t get up and say, yeah, I want to do this. There’s stages and things that happened in your mind and in your life that led to that point. And it was the same for Hannad Hasan things were happening in his life that led up to him making that decision I am going to carry a knife. So, we want to get young people to look at what leads up to these events and we want the public to see that.

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Found out more about the work of the Kiyan Prince Foundation here

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