Life skills plan booms
A vision for a community's future, encouraging generosity, no shortage of sweat and a spot of claret have helped to build a striking community resource.
Support and enthusiasm for the Victory Boxing programme, a children's life skills and fitness endeavour, has snowballed to the point where Fight for Life promoter Dean Lonergan suggested it could become a national programme.
Lonergan, of Duco Events, made the comments at the opening of the new Victory Boxing gym in Vanguard Street last night.
He said: "I think what [Victory Boxing] have got here - if they could get some measured outcomes - it is one of those things you could roll out around the country."
The opening of the impressive facility was made possible by the efforts of those involved with the successful Fight for Victory charity boxing event, held on June 1 at the Trafalgar Centre.
After months of preparation and training, 26 fighters stood toe-to-toe to raise $50,000 for the programme which strives to instil self-esteem, respect and determination in children through the art and discipline of boxing.
Many of the foundation fighters were at the opening to see the results of their toil, including Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio who threw the first official punch at one of the bags and cut the cake.
Also present were members of the Gibbons family. The Gibbons Group has provided the use of the building free of charge for an extended period and managing director Scott Gibbons was one of the foundation fighters.
Starting with 20 children two years ago at the Victory YMCA Boxing Gym, Paul Hampton, the Victory Boxing programme director, has seen the classes' boom. Now more than 80 boys and girls between 7 and 13 years-of-age are learning from former New Zealand boxing champions Barry Galbraith and Dean Rackley.
With children the focus, they were given the first-look at the new gym as an open day for the kids and their families was also held yesterday.
With the emphasis on providing a quality service, Hampton said he wanted to maintain numbers at a controllable level but also said newcomers would be accepted on a needs basis.
Now in its third year, with a new space to cater for the increased numbers, the young go-getters will have plenty of top-quality equipment to train with; about 40 skipping ropes, 30 pairs of gloves, 10 boxing bags, five other boxing-specific bags, a raised training floor and one full-size ring.
In keeping with the programme's core values of self-improvement and healthy living for community leaders of tomorrow, there is a chill-out room, stocked with plenty of fresh fruit and a homework space to use before or after training.
"The main focus of our programme is to instil self-esteem, respect for themselves and others, to develop the determination and the will to not give up when things get tough," said Hampton.
"We want to see fitness as a major part of the kids' lives and we also find that some of the kids learn to control their aggression."
For many kids who hold frustrations or anger, Hampton said boxing training was a good place to work out and let off steam as the punching bags could soak that up. However, there is a strict "what you learn in the gym stays in the gym rule".
Funds raised from Fight for Victory went towards fit-out costs, extra equipment, outgoings and training singlet's presented to participants who train and are committed for 12 weeks.
There are also plans to expand the Education Grant for Victory Boxing, developed in partnership with Miccio.
All those involved with Victory Boxing are volunteers and Hampton said the community has played a big role in the programme's success and in turn Victory Boxing has given back to the sport, with adult classes also to be held.
"Victory Boxing is overwhelmed by the support received during the Fight 4 Victory and still continues to receive today," Hampton said.
"We are supported by so many different people throughout the Nelson Bays area.
"We couldn't have been happier with the success of the Fight 4 Victory evening."
Plans are well under way for the 2014 edition, which could be headlined by the hottest hands in New Zealand boxing right now, Joseph Parker.