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Tough Times: a charitable sporting documentary that packs a punch


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Tough Times tells the story of Brad Welsh, former professional boxer and star of T2: Trainspotting. His Guinness World Record attempt broke new ground in boxing coaching and raised money for disabled children in his home city of Edinburgh.

Fans of Trainspotting and its recent sequel will recognise Bradley Welsh as silver-screen gangster ‘Mr. Doyle’. Trainspotting author, Irvine Welsh, described Tough Times as “an inspirational and uplifting story of courage, determination and sacrifice”. It certainly offers a crash-course in Welsh’s commitment to his community, his family and the good causes he supports through his boxing gym.

The documentary is centred on the Guinness World Record attempt but Welsh made it admirably clear that his priority wasn’t the record itself:

“It means more to me to raise the money and give something back to the kids of Edinburgh” he says, referring to the Tobii Eye Gaze machines that sponsorship for the record attempt went on to fund. The machines were employed to allow severely disabled children, with no other means of communication, to finally speak to their families. 

The record attempt saw ex-pro boxer Welsh offering 24 hours of boxing pad-work to the boxers and keep-fitters that attend his Edinburgh boxing gym. In practice that meant training boxers by catching punches, walking, talking and coaching for 360 three-minute rounds, with a one minute rest after each. It also meant no sleep and, with only one minute rests, no time for a proper meal or any real sustenance.

Eight hours in and catching each punch became excruciating. 13 hours in Welsh tells us he couldn’t feel his hands at all. Boxer and fellow-coach Phil Coppola reflected that he’d never seen Welsh as distraught as he was during the record attempt. Tough Times captures that struggle and offers an informative and uplifting insight into the great cause that was supported as well as Welsh’s own single-minded commitment to the Edinburgh community.

The documentary is a concise and arresting insight into Brad Welsh’s ‘one man army’ approach to running his boxing gym and making a real difference in the community. At his gym, Holyrood Boxing Gymnasium, Welsh does everything. ‘From spit buckets to PR’ was his summary and that extends out-with the gym, to organising fights, managing amateur boxers and marketing his gym, as well as breaking records and making a difference in the community.

“I’m not fucking joking about that. We want to create a better society,” says Welsh to camera, and it’s that attitude that shines through in Tough Times.

All of the films proceeds go towards Tobii Eye Gaze machines- Tough Times is out now and available on Vimeo.

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