Box­ing gym on its feet

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

It’s time to wel­come the first young box­ers.

The Can­nons Creek Box­ing Academy was of­fi­cially opened on Satur­day, with dig­ni­taries, com­mu­nity lead­ers and TV cam­eras present at the Bed­ford St premises.

It was hard to keep the smile off the face of Latu Talu, a pro­tege of Billy Gra­ham, from Nae­nae Box­ing Academy.

He was wor­ried about his speech.

‘‘Billy told me I had to say some­thing,’’ Talu said. ‘‘I re­ally don’t like pub­lic speak­ing and there were a lot of people, but I had to just do it.’’

The build­ing that houses the Can­nons Creek Box­ing Academy has had many uses over the years.

It was for­merly the in­fa­mous Top Tav­ern and opened as the Free­dom Church in 2007.

Talu said the mas­sive room up­stairs was per­fect for the gym’s pur­poses. The box­ing me­mora­bilia and posters are up – with more con­tem­po­rary box­ers than adorn the walls of Gra­ham’s gym in Nae­nae – and a tem­po­rary ring on loan from Welling­ton & Hutt Val­ley Box­ing As­so­ci­a­tion will be set up be­fore the new one ar­rives from the United States.

The first in­take of 11 to 13-yearolds would have classes this week, Talu said.

‘‘It’s taken a long time to get to where we are now; a lot of work by a lot of people.

‘‘The build­ing was a bit rough, but it looks way bet­ter and we have the chance to start chang­ing some lives now.’’

The Can­nons Creek gym is the first in the am­bi­tious plans of box- ing coach, au­thor and mo­ti­va­tional speaker Gra­ham, who opened his Nae­nae academy in 2006. It has helped curb tag­ging and crime rates in the area.

Club rules in­clude shak­ing hands when you en­ter, no bul­ly­ing, hats or swear­ing.

Gra­ham has the back­ing of Voda­fone and the Tin­dall Foun- da­tion to set up more acad­e­mies around New Zealand.

Gra­ham said Talu, a na­tion­ally ranked boxer, was a quiet leader who would be an ideal men­tor.

Photo: KRIS DANDO

Latu's do­main: The head of the Can­nons Creek Box­ing Academy, Latu Talu, in­side the nearly fin­ished gym last week.

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