Creek boxing gym a knockout
Latu Talu still finds it tough bossing policemen around.
The head coach at Cannons Creek Boxing Academy said the gym, open since July, was going incredibly well.
Thirty-one youngsters aged 9 to 13 have lockers on the converted floor of the Freedom Church building in Bedford St, along with members of the nearby Neighbourhood Policing Team.
‘‘I have to tell Damian [Parker] and Baz [Murfin] what to do and these guys are policemen,’’ he said. ‘‘It still seems strange to be doing this.
‘‘The great thing about having them along is that the boys [young boxers] see a different side of policemen.’’
A protege of motivational speaker and former boxer Billy Graham, who has a boxing academy in Naenae, Talu said there was an element of risk opening the gym in the Creek last year.
Mongrel Mob parents and rival gyms are ever-present.
But once the young wannabe pugilists come through his door – a combination of active recruiting and word-of-mouth – and see the tidy set-up, with a full-sized ring and equipment, the pressures of the outside world drop away.
‘‘The kids are learning respect for one another and themselves,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s no bad language, hats have to come off and you handshake or hug when you come through the door.
‘‘I like to hug because that’s the sort of person I am.
‘‘We learn to box, we get fit, have fun and hopefully some of these guys can have really good futures.’’
There is now a waiting list to join and expanding the age range to 15 is on the cards shortly.
Talu said the most gratifying feedback was from parents, who tell him they notice positive attitude changes in their children.
‘‘ I love every moment here. These are such great kids and I’m really bonding with them.
‘‘Some are showing real talent in the ring, but we have a way to go before we’re going to tournaments.’’
Graham had been incredibly supportive, but was hands off when it came to the Cannons Creek academy, Talu said.
In terms of his own boxing career, the nationally ranked light-welterweight has had a lot of time away from the ring with cataracts in both eyes, but said he hoped to resume training and fighting soon.
Last week, Wellington Free Ambulance staff showed Talu and his boxers how to use a defibrillator, which is on a wall at the academy.
Loving it: Latu Talu says he gets excited every day, thinking about seeing the youngsters at the Cannons Creek Boxing Academy.