Thursday, 21 January 2021

#BlogTour One Chance: Surviving London's Gangs by Terroll Lewis

“It’d be easy for me to go back to my old life, but I know where that old life leads you. You’re either behind prison bars or six feet underground.” 

It's a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour One Chance: Surviving London's Gangs by Terroll Lewis

About the Author

Terroll Lewis is the founder of the Brixton Street Gym, a charity-based community gym that has gained a huge cult following in the short time that it has been around. He also founded the Block WorkOut Foundation — the charitable base that supports this amazing gym, making it accessible to everyone regardless of income — and The ManTalk, an online platform that promotes male positivity.

Terroll had been embroiled in some of the most serious street gang warfare even seen in London, leading a band of armed and dangerous young men through the streets of the city, a wild time that ended in him being accused of murder. He was eventually acquitted of the crime and proven innocent, but is thankful for his time in prison, as it enabled him to re-evaluate his life and come out a better man, the man he is today.

Terroll Lewis has been named an Evening Standard Next Generation Trailblazer as well as Men’s Health most inspirational black men of 2020.

Follow @TerrollLewis on Twitter, on GoodreadsBuy One Chance: Surviving London's Gangs

About the book

Born and raised on Brixton’s notorious Myatt’s Field and Angell Town estates, Terroll Lewis has lived a crazy life. Surrounded by gang culture from an early age, like so many other young inner-city people, he found it hard to resist the lifestyle.

By the time he was 15, he had already joined a gang, been stabbed, shot at, and was selling drugs. A chance to play professional football at Stevenage offered him a way out, but the short-term allure of a glamorous street life — the promise of girls, money, and cars — compared to the £50 a week he was being paid to play football, led Terroll back to South London and the notorious OC, or Organised Crime, gang. 

Violence and drug dealing were the norm in OC, and in 2009, aged 20, Terroll was accused of being involved in an extremely serious crime. After spending 11 months inside Thamesmead’s Belmarsh prison, he was acquitted of all charges and released back into mainstream society, which signalled the start of a new life.

Having used fitness, and callisthenic exercises in particular, as a coping mechanism while in prison, Terroll soon realised that there were other people like him who couldn’t pay for a gym membership, but still wanted to keep fit. Determined to spread the word further, he created a YouTube video demonstrating his workout regime. The views and messages quickly began rolling in, which encouraged Terroll to start conducting classes in local parks. As his client base grew, so did his ambition and self-belief. Leveraging his rapidly growing social media fame to reinforce his case, Terroll was granted a spot – a converted depot on Somerleyton Road in Brixton – to turn the newly titled Block Workout into a fully-fledged street gym.

Through Block Workout and Brixton Street Gym, Terroll is now able to give something back to the community he was raised in, offering young people an opportunity to follow a different road to the one he took during his adolescence — helping them to develop their minds as well as their bodies — and the chance to live a better life.

Not only is One Chance a truly authentic guide for the urban youth, steering them through the world we live in today – from education and relationships, to jail, social media and mental health issues – it also has the power to educate wider society on the experiences that this frequently demonised demographic face. Whichever form it takes, the aim of the book is to increase understanding on both sides, leading to a more harmonious, progressive, and positive society.

Review

I think it's one thing knowing something and another to experience it, which is what flows through from the author to the reader in the strongest way possible in this read. It's unfathomable for the majority of us to accept there are certain areas in our first world country that resemble a war zone. A war zone where street law reigns supreme over any other laws.

For many being born into these areas is the first choice when it comes to roads taken and for the majority it is the beginning of a life full of minimal choices and prospects. That is the stark and brutal reality of certain demographics.

Terroll is one of those children, who experiences the violence before he is even born, and unfortunately goes on to live a life full of said violence. His walk through life is a thin tightrope leading past go and straight to prison. He credits his time in prison and the fight to prove his innocence with the epiphany of needing to try and find another path to walk upon.

Part of that choice was coupled with the determination to help others and give them the opportunities that he and others lacked. With Block Workout, Brixton Street Gym, and his courage to step outside of the box and stereotypes determined by society, he has managed to create a living legacy.

It's remarkable how he fights against the stereotypes, the systemic racism, the pressure to belong, and above all has the strength to take the hard road after being on the one society expects him resign himself to. It's a brutally honest and often shocking piece of work, which will remain with me for a long time. Kudos to Lewis.

Buy One Chance at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Ad Lib Publishers Ltd, pub date 21 Jan. 2021. Buy at Amazon com. Hive. Bookshop org. Waterstones.

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