Brotherhood Boxn: Gym for young Muslim men in Greenacre under threat of closure by Bankstown Council
After Cronulla? In other words, a place where the MuBro’s can train the bludgaheddin in knockout punches and indoctrinate them with the genocidal ideology called Islam.Â
Now, the weekly Friday prayer sessions at Greenacre’s Brotherhood Boxn gym are at risk of being shut down after the local council threatened legal action.
In a statement to the ABC, a Bankstown City Council spokesperson says the current site has consent for a boxing gym but not a public place of worship.
“We have been advised by the owner he will submit a new development application for use, which will incorporate a place of public worship on Fridays,” the statement said.
“To date, we have not received an application.”
The council says they have received many complaints about parking in the area on Fridays. These are being investigated.
Gym owner Muhummad Alyatim says he will comply with council requirements but refuses to stop the weekly prayers.
We’ve stopped some shootings, we’ve stopped families going to war, we’ve stopped brothers going to war against each other.Muhummad Alyatim
“We started to hold sermons, the Friday sermons as this is part of our religion,” he said.
“I’ve started to take it on a new level, reach out to them [youth] obviously to speak their language and give them the reality of what’s going on in their life and what the religion teaches and how to behave in today’s life.
“We’ll keep fighting to whatever it takes to make Bankstown Council understand that we need this place here for them, especially Friday sermons.”
Mr Alyatim says if the gym ceases to offer Friday prayers or is shut down, it will be a disaster for wayward youth.
“If Brotherhood Boxn wasn’t here or to be closed down or anything like that, then obviously these children will stay on the streets where these gangs or bikie groups are open and taking them in,” he said.
‘It all starts in the hood’
At one of the Friday prayer sermons, Mr Alyatim preaches that worshippers should turn away from the streets and go back to respecting their parents.
His style is raw and straightforward.
“They say live by the street, die by the street. But let me tell you something, you’re living on the edge,” the gym’s head boxing coach says in the sermon.
Every Friday up to 100 faithful come to Brotherhood Boxn gym for the prayer service.
Mr Alyatim, who is 41 and a father of two, set up the gym in 2005 after the Cronulla riots.
He says it began as a refuge for young men of Middle Eastern backgrounds who felt angry and disenfranchised after the series of events that year.
“A lot of the youth struggled [with] where they wanted to go, so we said we’ll set up a place, a home for these young kids where they can come to,” he said.
Nine years later the gym has grown into a small community and its motto is “It all starts in the ‘hood”.
There are boxing classes for adults and children every day. Children as young as five take part.
The gym has also become a refuge for current and former criminals to box, pray and get their lives back on track.
“A lot of people known to police do come here, but they are slowly changing their lives,” Mr Alyatim said.
“We are talking about gangs, whether it’s bikie gangs or regular gangs out on the street, and we are open to all these gangs, obviously on the condition of them turning their lives around.
“It’ll never happen in a flash but they have great character and they are working towards that.”
‘We’ve stopped brothers going to war against each other’
Mr Alyatim says the gym is helping to stop crime occurring.
“We’ve stopped some shootings, we’ve stopped families going to war, we’ve stopped brothers going to war against each other,” he said.
“This is what we’re all about and we’ll go to extreme lengths to stop all these type of things. You would want them inside here than out on the streets.
“I’ve had a lot of boys that have left gangs that have come here and they put their trust in me.”
Head boxing trainer Yasser agrees.
“There are some boys that came here every day, not to train but to hang out,” he said.
“The truth is the majority of our clientele aren’t here to box, they’re here for community help. It gets them off the streets.
“It’s a bit of a jungle out there and it’s easy to do bad things.”
The trainer says the focus is on building a culture of brotherhood rather than a gym of professional boxers.
“We’re not really here to breed fighters, if we do it’s a bonus,” he said. “It’s more a gathering for all brothers.
“The gym is for all people, we have different types of nationalities, different religions and different colours.”
He says if the gym closes it will be a disaster for the local community, particularly Greenacre.
Young men find refuge in gym’s ‘brotherhood’
Ibrahim Nemre was a young man caught up in a life of crime.
“It was all about fun, going out, making easy money, having a laugh,” he said.
“There are drugs, gangs, hanging out at night, just making trouble.”
The 21-year-old said the turning point was when he realised he needed to change and decided to join the gym.
“Once I got into a bit of trouble with the law, I thought to myself I need to change, I need to do something,” he said.
“The brothers here kept inviting me …’come to the gym, come to the gym’.
“The times that I have come I’ve found it keeps me away from everything bad. It has actually brought me closer to my religion, they stop training, they pray.”
The Greenacre local says the gym is now part of his daily life.
“I come here nearly every day,” he said. “It keeps me away from a lot of bad. I relieve my stress on [punching] bags.”
He says the gym culture of the brotherhood is a big attraction.
“We’ve built a brotherhood here. It’s not he’s my [boxing] trainer, it’s like he’s my older brother,” Mr Nemre said.
“If he tells me off, I don’t take it as him putting it on me, he’s helping me out, he wants what’s best for me.”
Mr Nemre says he can see the effects the gym is having on others as well.
“I see a lot of people that I used to see outside on the streets coming and changing,” he said. “Personally, I wouldn’t know what to replace it with.”
Other gym attendees say the gym offers a unique space for young people to gather.
“Every week I look forward to Friday prayers,” said 20-year-old Hamza.
“We sit with each other, we speak, we have a laugh, and it’s a beautiful gathering.”
Gym regular and Greenacre local Anas Koueider agrees.
“If this place was to close, there are a lot of kids that will be lost,” the 24-year-old said.
“They’ll be on the streets, up to no good. This is their outlet, this is their program.”