Boxer fighting for girl power
‘‘It took a while to convince Billy, who's pretty oldfashioned. He told me girls' faces are for kissing, not punching.’’
A new coach is bringing big changes to the ultra-masculine environment of a local boxing gym.
Simone Harris, 25, is the first female coach to step into the ring at Cannons Creek Boxing Academy, and she’s about to start training a whole new type of boxer.
‘‘I know the deal here, this is a community I understand, and this will be the first place we pilot a programme for the girls,’’ she said. ‘‘That’s special to me.’’
For the past two terms, a group of girls from nearby Windley Primary School have been turning up to train in their lunch hour, something Harris said had been a long time coming.
‘‘When the first group of girls walked in, my heart swelled. It was the best feeling to have girls in here, it gave me goose bumps.’’
The gym is a pilot to the famous Billy Graham Boxing Academy in Naenae, which has earned its founder accolades since it opened in 2006.
Graham’s particular brand of no-nonsense, old-fashioned coaching for at-risk boys has been praised for changing lives and lowering crime in Naenae.
The Cannons Creek branch opened in 2014 under head coach Latu Talu, Graham’s protege, and Harris said she had long been a fan of the programme.
‘‘I thought it was incredible, the energy and enthusiasm is amazing. There was just one thing that was missing – girls?
‘‘It took a while to convince Billy, who’s pretty old-fashioned. He told me girls’ faces are for kissing, not punching.
Her perserverance paid off, and she has spent the past few months watching Latu train the boys while learning the ropes herself.
‘‘I passionately believe that, for every boy in this gym who has trouble at home, who has a hard time, who needs love and confidence, there’s a girl that’s going through exactly the same.’’
This term a new group of girls will be arriving from Windley School, and Harris said she was aiming to open up classes to other girls in term 4.
‘‘I feel I have power in my hands to make a difference...it’s so amazing I get the chance to do that for the girls.’’
Simone Harris, 25, is the first female coach at Cannons Creek Boxing Academy.