Terroll Lewis was a member of a notorious London gang, but all that changed when he started listening to Christian hip-hop music.
A former Brixton gangster is now using his passion for Jesus and the gym to help local youth avoid the dangerous road his life took.
Born and raised on Brixton’s notorious Myatt’s Field and Angell Town estates, Terroll Lewis was a member of the Organised Crime (OC) gang. With his mob name ‘Boost’, Terroll had a reputation for extreme brutality.
By the time he was 15, he had already joined a gang, been stabbed, shot at, and was selling drugs. He was offered a way out with a chance of playing professional football at Stevenage.
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 gang.
Violence and drug dealing were the norm in OC and at the age of 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.
But the real turnaround in his life took place when he accepted Christ into his life after listening to Christian rap music.
“When I became a Christian, it was a new world to me,” he remembers. “All I knew was the gang life. Christian hip-hop helped me relate to Jesus in a way I never knew was possible. I believe that God is the author of creativity and, if everything on earth belongs to him, that includes rap music.”
Having used fitness, and calisthenic 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.
Terroll’s positive reputation continues to gain momentum with many honouring his great work for Brixton’s next generation.
He was named a Next Generation Trailblazer by the Evening Standard and one of the UK’s Most Inspirational Black Men of 2020 by Men’s Health.
Terroll’s story is told in his new book One Chance, which is an exploration of London’s gang culture and why he now works to help young men like himself stay away from gangs. It provides an insider’s tale of violence, prison, faith and redemption.