Boxer fight­ing for girl power

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - VIR­GINIA FAL­LON

‘‘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.

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