Boxing club a big hit with budding sluggers

Youngsters line up to take a swing

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 13/06/2014
boxing
Fairfax NZ
TAKE THAT: Arohaina Dean, 7, hits the pads with head coach Jacob Rapira.

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A group of children from Marfell were so keen to join a boxing club they walked into town to make sure they did not miss out.

Community Constable Nelson Pulotu, of Marfell, said he and Box Office Boxing Inc head coach and co-founder Jacob Rapira discussed starting a boxing programme for Marfell kids in the second term.

"The very next day eight children walked from Marfell to the Box Office Boxing Club to meet Jacob and talk about their interest. I believe Jacob and some of the volunteers ended up transporting them home again. A couple of days later seven different kids walked down there."

So they changed their plans. Pulotu got the go-ahead to use a police 12-seater van and they began the Youth Academy on February 28.

"We had 11 kids, and that's because that's all we could fit in the van. We sat down first thing and talked about our rules. No swearing in the gym, no hats or beanies, no colours, the respect thing when someone else is talking. When you get to gym you shake everyone's hand, when you leave the gym you shake everyone's hand. Just simple behaviour you'd expect from any club."

At the end of the session they realised the kids were hungry and complained of tiredness, so for the second class they had volunteers to make sandwiches.

Since then some volunteers, including Pulotu and Rapira's mothers, have made sandwiches and provide fruit; sometimes people have brought baking and one lady brought some soup.

Pulotu said the club had done some fundraising to ensure the children were fed.

The club runs three days a week, but Pulotu said if it were up to the kids they would have it every day.

Awhina Dean, 12, said this year was the first time she had tried boxing and she loved it.

"When I'm bored I like to do stuff and it's good exercise."

Her boxing goals are to keep doing it for as long as she can and try her best.

Chief Anderson, 12, said he liked "everything" about boxing. When pressed he decided tag sparring was his favourite part of the afternoon. And he said h never got tired.

Rapira said the Youth Academy was something he had always wanted to do, especially because boxing clubs were traditionally for at-risk or underprivileged kids.

The children loved it, he said.

"For most kids it's the only sport they do. It's different, fun, everyone is included. We feed them and they love that. And they love the training."

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