THE boss of a Bournemouth boxing club is urging young people to stay safe and follow its Knives Down Gloves Up motto.

BodySnatchers Boxing has been open less than two months but has already attracted huge interest.

Clients include people with anxiety or learning difficulties as well as children excluded from mainstream school.

But the bulk of users are people of all ages who just want to keep fit.

The gym, in Sea Road, Boscombe runs classes for children aged five to eight, nine to 12 and 13 to 17 as well as classes for adults.

The owner is Marc Plunkett, a boxing enthusiast with a "chequered past" who hopes his club will steer people away from crime or addiction.

Mr Plunkett, 47, served a prison sentence for assaulting a police officer 15 years ago.

He told the Daily Echo: "I have a bit of a chequered past and also had a problem with alcohol addiction but boxing has helped me to turn my life around.

"I gave up drinking five years ago because I realised I needed to make a change. Everything in my life started getting better and I hope this club can help other people who are either already in difficulty or perhaps heading in that direction."

He added: "When I was a teenager the naughty kids stole milk from people's doorsteps but these days many of them are carrying knives and attacking people in the street.

"Young people need to know how to stay away from those paths and I hope the boxing gym can help.

"This gym is not full of people who are going to be great boxers but it is full of great people.

"I hope that everyone will feel confident to come here - it's definitely not a gym full of people showing off."

He is offering free trials for children and urged people to get in touch via Facebook.

BodySnatchers, on the site of the former Whistons toy shop, was burgled twice in one night last month.

But one of the offenders returned all the items she had stolen after publicity about the gym. Mr Plunkett decided to take no action against her.