THE first two black prison governors in Britain helped celebrate the ninth anniversary of a group set up to tackle racial harassment on Thursday.

Chand Coormiah, chairman of the organisation for Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire, from Fearnhead, organised the event at Thorn Cross Young Offenders’ Institute, in Appleton Thorn, as one of his last acts before he retires.

Respect was set-up to help prison service staff experiencing or witnessing racial harassment or discrimination and aims to eliminate racism in the workplace.

Brian Anderson, widely thought to be the first black prison boss, revealed during the event that it was actually the second speaker, Mike Poselay, who came first.

He said: “The national papers got it wrong.

“Mike was in the prison service before me and he’s a big hero of mine, everything I’ve done Mike has been responsible for.”

Mr Anderson has used his experience as a former boxing star to help, in particular, young offenders.

He said: “Kids tend to relate better to people who are involved in sport.

“At one time I was working with young offenders at Doncaster and there was a boxing book in the library with my picture in it.

“It was funny to see the difference in their attitude towards me after they saw that.”

The 1980s British middleweight champion believes that boxing saved his life and would like to see more 15 to 18-year-olds encouraged to take up the sport.

He added: “It gives you discipline, self-esteem, control and helps you to make the right decisions.

“I’m 48 now and I’ve never drank or smoked because I got involved in boxing and without it I would be probably be dead or in prison.”

Mr Poselay, who helped to change standards in women’s prisons including eradicating strip searches, said: “When I was in school I didn’t want to be black but I didn’t want to be white either, I just wanted to be another face in the crowd.

“There’s still that 0.01 per cent of people who don’t think the same but the work of Respect is helping to down bring those barriers.”

Since it was formed, Respect now has a nationwide membership 61,459.

Mr Coormiah added: “Respect will only be successful and move forward with everyone’s continued help and support.”

l For more information visit