Boxer fighting for his 100 ‘boys’
When Latu Talu steps into the ring he’s only thinking about his boys, all 100 of them.
The head coach of Cannons Creek Boxing Academy has just won the national Senior Elite Lightweight (U60kg) boxing title and said it was the thought of the at-risk boys he coached that spurred him to victory.
‘‘I carry them on my shoulders. They make me a better fighter and the things I win I give to them, I feed them with my fighting.’’
Talu had to lose over 15kgs to compete in the weight division and said, despite having to give up his much-loved rice and chicken, it was worth it to become a New Zealand champion.
‘‘It was a lot of suffering, a lot of tears and a lot of blood, but if you love something you have to do it. Hard work pays off and thats what I tell my boys.
‘‘I’ll show them how to do it and down the track we’ll be right beside each other. You suffer for me and I suffer for you.’’
Talu was born in Tuvalu and came to New Zealand with his family when he was seven and won Migrant of the Year in 2015, something he still can’t believe.
‘‘I thought they must have been joking when I got that award, there’s much better people than me who deserved it.’’
With his eyes firmly set on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, he said it was unusual for a coach to still be fighting and thought it was a great way to inspire the boys at his academy.
The Porirua gym is an offshoot of boxer Billy Graham’s Naenae Boxing Academy, which has been credited with cutting crime rates in the area since it opened in 2005, and is a pilot to see if the model can work in other places - without Graham standing at the front of the class.
Talu said he had initially been frightened to follow in Graham’s footsteps and be responsible for a gym full of boys.
He said Graham had told him to take some time and think about what he wanted to do.
‘‘I want to do for someone else what Billy did for me. One person changed his life and look how many lives he’s changed.
‘‘If we keep changing lives we’ll have a better New Zealand and we’ll have men walking around with respect for themselves and respect for others.
‘‘You don’t have to be tough, you don’t have to be rough, you can be a gentleman. You don’t like that? Change it. Be happy, I’m happy, be like me.’’
Another fighter from Naenae Boxing Academy took a championship at the Nationals. Keegan O’Kane-Jones from Wainuiomata won the Senior Elite Bantamweight (U56kg). He also won the Youngest Winner trophy 2016.
Billy Graham said O’KaneJones will ultimately be the head coach at a Wainuiomata branch of his boxing academy.
Latu Talu has won the national senior elite lightweight (under 60kg) boxing title