Scholarship gives Jayden focus
'Boxing is the ultimate equaliser'JANINE RANKIN
The benefits of last year's Fight to Make a Difference are starting to shine through for Roslyn School pupil Jayden Machuca and his family.
The 12-year-old is one of the first to be awarded a scholarship to attend Meehan's Boxing Club's boxing and mentoring programme.
"It's been a real lifesaver," said mum Rose, who is studying fulltime and relieved to see her energetic and strong-willed son growing in confidence and self-control.
Fight organiser Billy Meehan is offering 20 boxing scholarships to intermediate-aged pupils needing help to avoid trouble and find positive ways to deal with challenges in their lives.
The fight night involved 28 competitors who were asked to raise $1200 each in sponsorship, and attracted an audience of more than 1100, many of them at corporate tables for which they paid between $1200 and $2000.
Mr Meehan, who is also a city councillor, said total income amounted to $115,500.
After about $70,000 in expenses for venue hire, catering and equipment, there was a $45,300 profit.
He said each of the scholarships would be worth about $2000, covering each pupil's membership, gear and training, and the extra costs for those who wanted to enter competitions.
Palmerston North schools have been invited to nominate pupils who could benefit, with Roslyn and Monrad Intermediate among the first to take up the offer.
Ms Machuca said the improvement in Jayden's behaviour and outlook had been great since he started boxing nearly two years ago.
"He used to have really bad tantrums if he did not get his way.
"Since he started boxing, he has had an outlet. We have a punch bag hanging up at home, and if he gets [annoyed], I tell him to go and take it out on that."
The improved attitude has spilled over into other parts of his life, such as learning to play guitar and perform, and helping younger children at school. "He knows what it's like to get in trouble. He still does silly things, but so far this year, he has been really good."
Ms Machuca said it was the combination of a physical outlet and the extra pep talks from someone who was not his mum that had made a difference.
She said she would have struggled to keep on paying for his boxing lessons without the scholarship.
Mr Meehan said Jayden was one of his "pilot scenarios" to show the benefits of boxing activity, fitness and mentoring for young people tempted to make trouble.
"Boxing is the ultimate equaliser. There are no shortcuts. If you don't do the work, you won't succeed. You can't sit on the bench and win."
Mr Meehan said when young people were fit, they were more positive about their lives, and the discipline and role modelling helped outside the gym.
The fight night accounts are expected to be audited shortly and available for supporters and sponsors to view.
- Manawatu Standard
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