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Bascome turns gym into art project

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Nikki Bascome knew he had to fight back when his new gym at TN Tatem Middle School was broken into during the Covid-19 lockdown.

However, rather than look to admonish the culprits, the island's top boxer countered by turning a negative into a positive, transforming the outside walls of the facility into a community art project.

Bascome reached out through social media for local artists to help realise his vision of motivational murals.

“The gym was broken into during quarantine and that was a wake-up call for me to do something positive in the community,” Bascome said. “I've always been a fan of art and thought it would be a great idea to inspire kids in the neighbourhood to take the right path.

“I posted a flyer on social media and people started getting in touch with me about how we could make this a community project. Several local artists got involved and I spoke to each one about my ideas for the murals, and they then put their creative touches to it.”

Five of the gym's outside walls became blank canvases for Bermudian artists Dennis Joaquin, Liz and Frankie Arnold, Selah Ray, Carlos Santana and Travon Smith to inspire youngsters through powerful words and images.

“You can see each mural has a different meaning,” said Bascome, who started renovating the inside of the gym in September last year. “There's a lot of negativity in the world right now and the best thing we can do is be positive ... be the change you want to see.

“I never graduated from school, but I have a lot of respect for the kids that do. One of the walls has a painting with a young girl graduating. It really speaks volumes.

“She's looking in the mirror and she sees herself in the future. It's about inspiring the young black kids in the neighbourhood, hence the mural that reads: ‘The World Is Yours'.”

Bascome hopes the NB Boxing Gym can inspire at-risk youngsters in the same way he found sanctuary and purpose at the converted gym outside the Warwick home of Allan “Forty” Rego, his late coach and mentor.

“Positive quotes can take you a long way,” said the 29-year-old.

“One of the quotes Mr Rego used to always say to me was: ‘If you don't quit then your chances of winning are great'.

“I've been through my ups and downs, but I never quit. I want the kids behind me to realise that too. You could be right near the finish line, but if you quit then there's no way you're going to succeed.”

Art attack: Nikki Bascome, centre, with local artists outside one of the murals at the NB Boxing Gym at TN Tatem Middle School in Warwick. From left, Dennis Joaquin, Selah Ray, Liz Arnold and Carlos Santana. Not pictured are Frankie Arnold and Travon Smith (Photograph by Stephen Wright)

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Published August 26, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated August 25, 2020 at 7:14 pm)

Bascome turns gym into art project

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