Deafblind pensioner returns to boxing

A pensioner has returned to boxing training more than 45 years after he was forced to give it up as his sight deteriorated.

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James Peline, 65, has lost both his sight and hearing due to Usher syndrome and is supported by charity Deafblind Scotland.

Mr Peline, from Cardonald, Glasgow, was a keen boxer as a teenager but had to stop when his sight got progressively worse. He returned to training six months ago as part of a charity initiative to keep him active and healthy.

His trainer communicates with him through a series of touches on his arms and shoulders that guide his movements.

Mr Peline will not be competing in any boxing matches but the weekly sessions involve fitness drills and working on technique and hand speed.

Speaking via sign language through a Deafblind Scotland guide, Mr Peline said: "I love it. It is very hard work and I sweat a lot when I train, but I enjoy it."

Trainer Tam Fraser offered to help out with Deafblind Scotland and has been inspired by Mr Peline.

He said: "When we know someone has a disability and they used to box, I don't see how that should hinder them now.

"To cope with life with absolutely no sight or hearing, but to still come and do this makes him a real inspiration to us all."

Boxing promoter Alex Morrison, who manages WBO lightweight world champion Ricky Burns, has been impressed with Mr Peline's efforts and has invited him as guest of honour to his next fight night this weekend.

He said: "I've never met anyone like James, it is amazing.

"I realised as soon as I met him it's not sympathy he is looking for. I am not completely surprised he has been able to take up the training if he did it in the past but it must be hard.

"I am so lucky to have my sight and hearing and it's a pleasure to do something like this for James. It is really nice to see Deafblind Scotland offering James these opportunities."

Deafblind Scotland operations manager Suzanne Abbate thanked the people who have helped Mr Peline return to training and encouraged more people to get involved with the charity.

She said: "James is a shining example of a deafblind person who will not let his impairments stop him from achieving his goals.

"Deafblind Scotland's skilled guide/communicator service is equipped to offer those who have a severe loss of both their sight and hearing the opportunity to get out, interact with others and carry out daily tasks."

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