Idris Elba Backs Fight For Peace Academy @ Luta Launch
Idris Elba is best known to many people as Stringer Bell from The Wire, scheming among the upper echelons of Baltimore’s drug dealing hierarchy. In real life, however, Elba is firmly on the other side, and has lent his support to a project which uses martial arts to combat gang violence.
The Fight for Peace academy in Rio provides boxing and other martial arts coaching alongside classes in personal development, mentoring and leadership training. An academy has also existed in North Woolwich since 2007, with 1800 members signed up so far, and Elba came here — 2 miles from his Canning Town birthplace — to launch a new brand of clothing: Luta, 50% of whose profits will go to ‘Fight for Peace’.
The Luta brand is integral to the future ambitions of Fight for Peace, said the organisation’s founder Luke Dowdney. ‘We are trying to create something new, where you can’t tell if it’s a charity or a business. It makes amazing clothes that you want to wear, it also runs cool clubs for young people in communities that need that.’
‘Violence has become an acceptable way to be socially recognised. Luta is saying that that stuff is fake,’ he said. ‘It’s about the gang making you feel safe rather than being a strong person.’ He aims for Luta to act as an engine to drive the growth of Fight for Peace academies internationally, and from 2012 to help others set up similar centres in the UK.
Luta worked with Central St Martin’s and young designers from the Rio favela to create its pro, training and street ranges. Luke says the brand’s strength ‘comes from real stories’. In a new Luta commercial, voiced by Elba and created without an advertising company, the Brazilian lightweight boxing champion Roberto Custodio describes how, having lost his father to gun violence, his training at the Fight for Peace academy in Rio put him on the path to success.
Elba, who also announced that he will be training over the next eight months for a fight to raise money for a children’s hospital in Sierra Leone, said that much celebrity involvement charity work is superficial and figures in the public eye needed to ‘do more and shut up.’
‘I’m just an entertainer. But I want to be part of a team that is going to make some change. Kids don’t have many role models. On the wall here you see words like “fearless” “inspiring” and “solidarity”. Those are words that they’re not hearing on the street.’
By Jonathan Knott
Photos courtesy of action images
Last Updated 19 May 2011