Joint funding partners Vodafone NZ Foundation and The Tindall Foundation are delighted to be backing Cannons Creek’s youth boxing academy which opened on Saturday.  The project is set to turn around the lives of at-risk boys in Porirua.

The Cannons Creek pilot boxing academy is based on the successful Naenae Boxing Academy, run by New Zealander of the Year local hero award winner, Billy Graham – an internationally renowned boxer himself.

 Billy has won widespread acclaim for his dedicated work in the local Naenae community helping hundreds of young men and reducing teen crime rates and tagging in the suburb.

In 2013, The Tindall Foundation funded a feasibility study that explored the potential to replicate Billy’s gym in Cannon’s Creek, Porirua.  The study recommended the importance of a local community lead with a heart for youth and experience in coaching boxing.

One of Billy’s protégés, Latu Talu – who has trained with Billy since 2006 – will run the gym in partnership with the Cannon’s Creek Youth Charitable Trust.

At the new Cannons Creek gym, boys will learn life-skills through the disciplines of boxing and physical fitness.

Latu and the team will encourage the boys  to maintain positive relationships with their family, how to understand and care for their bodies – and give them a sense of identity, belonging and self-worth.  They will help build their self-esteem, communication skills and give them knowledge to cope with the stresses and challenges of everyday life.

As well as the feasibility study grant, The Tindall Foundation has donated $100,000 to the new operation. The Vodafone NZ Foundation has granted $185,000 to the venture.

The Tindall Foundation special projects manager Trevor Gray has worked closely with the Trust throughout the process.

“We funded the Naenae Youth Charitable Trust back in 2007 and with our Wellington funding manager partners, the Nikau Foundation, have walked beside them since.  Together with our co-funders the Vodafone NZ Foundation, we appreciate the huge amount of work that has been done and the challenges that have been overcome to bring this dream to reality.”

Trevor adds: “We look forward to seeing if the unique and proven Naenae Boxing Academy model can be effectively set up in other communities.  It will be a real stretch for Billy and his team to provide the extra capacity and funding needed to operate another facility.  While we have every confidence in their ability to do so, they’ll need all the help they can get.”

Vodafone NZ Foundation chair, Antony Welton says it is delighted to be supporting the project in partnership with The Tindall Foundation.

“We’re thrilled to be backing an organisation like this with strong values, community support and great leadership.  We funded Billy in 2008 through our World of Difference programme and are looking forward to seeing how his great work can be replicated and transform at-risk youth into champion men.”

Photos by Craig McGhie