A former world heavyweight champion paid a surprise visit to boxing students at Hendon Training College last Wednesday.

Tim Witherspoon, 51, was at the Metropolitan Police's Boxing Centre to support the Contender Am-box programme, a non-contact boxing initiative set up by schools and boxing clubs across the UK.

The scheme is run by police officers with coaching qualifications, and they were ably supported by the former champ on Wednesday, who spoke about his career and the benefits of the sport.

At the height of his career, Witherspoon defeated Frank Bruno in front of 60,000 fight fans at Wembley.

PC Cliff Perkins, the Met and national police chief coach, who set up the programme, said: “It has taken a lot of hard work together with help from others to organise this visit and it has been rewarded by Tim's contribution.

"The look on the faces of Contender students when he took a personal interest in what they were doing and hearing what they hoped to achieve was priceless.

“Tim's presence made a huge difference to the day.”

The Contender programme includes lessons in nutrition and citizenship and addresses issues such as gun, knife and gang crime.