By Mick Jensen
Five aspiring fighters, the first to be selected from the Mid Canterbury Boxing Gym academy, have had their first taste of a boxing tournament.
Although not all stepped into the ring at the Golden Gloves event in Christchurch, the boxers are keen to repeat the experience and others from the academy are likely to follow.
It could be the start of big things, says Mid Canterbury Boxing Gym trainer Cornelius Grobler.
Three of the five were matched with much more experienced and skillful opponents and the bouts had been deemed too one sided and had not gone ahead.
Tyler Gola had stepped up two weight divisions to take on his opponent and although he did not win, the fight had been valuable experience for the 18-year-old.
The same useful experience had also been gained by another boxer.
Mr Grobler said he had always made it clear to his boxers that he would not enter them into fights unless he believed they were ready for the challenge.
The five he had entered had been the best prepared from those in the academy.
The boxing academy had 85 young boxers, and 15 had indicated they wanted to step into the ring against other boxers.
“Our philosophy at the boxing gym is that we want to develop ‘champion men and not champion boxers’.
“At the end of the day, passing on important life skills and developing discipline, fitness and camaraderie is more important.”
The boxing academy operates from a large converted shed behind the New Life church in Tinwald.
It is based on the training facility of Billy Graham in Naenae, Wellington.