$80,000 hit makes club heavyweight
Room for more members and more equipmentHANNAH FLEMING
After punching above its weight for years, the Box-Office Boxing Club is looking to expand its walls.
The Bell Block club recently received a three-stage $80,000 grant from the TSB Community Trust, which will allow it to relocate to a bigger, better, and more accessible New Plymouth building.
The home club of professional light-heavyweight Sam Rapira and New Zealand amateur Tania Robbertsen, Box-Office had always aimed to reach out and involve troubled youth, coach Jake Rapira said.
Its location in Bell Block had made that difficult over the years.
"A lot of those kids have been coming over from areas like Marfell. It's a struggle to sustain their attendance because of the drive out to Bell Block.
"This relocation will make it easier to reach the kids this sport is focused on."
The new site, underneath Super Cheap Auto in Leach St, is three times the size of the present venue, meaning there would be room for more members and more equipment.
"We hope to up our membership to 400," Rapira said. "We also work with schools and currently have about 1182 kids in our school programmes. We're wanting to up that number to 3000."
Rapira said the boxing programmes not only helped kids' physical well-being, but taught them self-discipline, drive, and social skills.
There would also be an increased focus on boxing classes and strength and conditioning facilities.
Toilet and shower facilities - far better than "the busted up loos and hose" at Bell Block - would also be a bonus, Rapira said.
The club will be open from 6am to 8pm Monday to Friday.
TSB Community Trust manager Maria Ramsay said the trust had backed Box-Office since it began in 2007.
"We always support sport and recreation, but this has got a whole other component to it as well.
"Jake has some neat success stories. The turnaround of some of the youth, with where they have been and where they are going, has just been great," she said.
Although excited for the expansion, Rapira couldn't disguise his nerves, knowing he needed to fundraise about $170,000 for the full relocation and fit-out.
He hoped to reach out to businesses for sponsorship, and give back to those corporates in different ways.
All going to plan, Rapira hopes to be up and running by December, and has a target market already in mind.
"Hopefully we can catch that crowd after the New Year when everybody is feeling guilty," he laughed.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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