Creek boxing gym a knock­out

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

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.

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