Boxing academy for Creek
Latu Talu wants to make Billy proud.
The Porirua 24-year-old will be a proud man when he swings open the doors of the Cannons Creek Boxing Academy for the first time later this month.
The academy is the first cab off the rank in the ambitious expansion plans of boxing coach, motivational speaker and author Billy Graham.
Graham opened a boxing academy in Naenae in 2006 and it has helped curb tagging and crime rates in the area.
The club caters for 11 to 18-year-olds, and rules include shaking hands when you enter and no bullying, hats or swearing.
Graham has received backing from the Tindall Foundation, Vodafone and police commissioner Mike Bush for the Cannons Creek expansion.
The gym will be above the Freedom Church in Bedford St and has been leased for three years.
Talu, who went to Russell School and Porirua College, has been with Graham in Naenae since day one eight years ago, and is nervous and excited about running the academy in his home town.
‘‘I don’t want to let anyone down and will just do the best I can,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s a huge opportunity for me.’’ He said boxing focused a lot of anger he had as a teenager and he became disciplined and learnt respect, consideration and compassion for others.
Pupils from Porirua intermedi- ate schools are being interviewed for the academy and about 20 will be in the first intake.
Latu and Graham said they were realistic enough to expect some of the early pupils to drop out because they might not take to the strict rules.
Framed photos will adorn the walls and there will be a ring, boxing bags and equipment for training.
A trust has been set up to organise the academy’s funds and grants applications.
Talu will have a support staff of three assistant coaches and a support person to field inquiries.
Kapiti Mana Police area commander Inspector Paul Basham said the police were fully supportive of the academy.
‘‘We’re delighted that Billy and his team are coming into Cannons Creek,’’ he said.
‘‘ He has the dedication and drive to do good things that turn young boys into great men and his results in Naenae have been recognised at a national level.’’
Graham said Talu, a nationally ranked boxer, had a ‘‘follow me’’ style and would lead by example.
‘‘He’s a mentor for so many of the kids here [ in Naenae]. If they’re stepping out of line he gives them a look and a quiet word and that’s it.
‘‘But he makes the training and the boxing a lot of fun.
‘‘He’s passionate and he cares and that’s why I know he’ll be successful.’’
New beginning: Billy Graham with his star pupil, Latu Talu, who will oversee the Cannons Creek Boxing Academy.