Boxing: Kids box way to confidence

By Peter White

Getting through the teenage years can be a turbulent ride for so many young people. The rise of social media and unlimited internet access have created challenges for educators and parents.

But for Hemi Niha, boxing training is the way to keep kids safe and on the right path.

Niha runs the T.K.O Boxing Academy in Tauranga and his passion in life is creating better people through the many aspects of boxing.

He helps young people, from eight schools in the Western Bay and through the NZ Police Blue Light programme, to discover the benefits of training.

The sport demands discipline, physical fitness, application to a plan and courage, plus it fosters vital self-esteem and confidence.

The programme can best be summed up by the slogan "Impossible is Nothing" written on countless inspirational posters of Muhammad Ali that adorn the gym walls.

"Definitely that is what it is about," Niha said.

"Our people come here with vision and goals, and there are a lot of small stepping-stones to get to the top. The key thing is everyone who comes here has to be clean and tidy.

"We have a drug and alcohol-free environment here for our kids. I encourage them to do well at school because we need bright boxers, not dumb boxers. Guys with brains who can make good decisions."

Niha singles out one of his young boxers, 17-year-old Hayden Lewis, as an example of how boxing can dramatically change young lives. "Hayden was one of those kids who was not happy but since his journey inside the gym, he has been an angel kid. Not only did his schooling change for the better, but his vision for becoming an army man evolved.

"He is very respectful now and his boxing has improved dramatically. He is definitely a warrior in our team.

"All I did was help him find himself. He wants to be a champion and I encourage everyone to go for it. Anyone can do it. Good arms, good legs? Then go for it."

Lewis fights in the welterweight division at the Central North Island Champs in Rotorua tomorrow.

It will be his crucial 10th fight, which promotes him out of the novice grade and into the open division. He will then fight at the nationals in October.

The 17-year-old, who went to Otumoetai College, regards boxing as not just a massive help to him physically but genuinely life-changing.

"I started boxing when I was 14 so this is my fourth year. I would not have been as good a person as I am now without it. I am much more relaxed now, more disciplined as well. I used to be a bit off the wall when I was younger, so it has really helped. I have gained a lot of confidence and can really stand up for what I dream about. It has made me more able to let people know what I think now too.

"I always wanted to go into the army and this will help me get there, but first I want to fight more and get more work experience. I used to get really nervous before my fights but I am more confident now. The more fights the better.

"I dream about boxing, and how far I can go in the sport.

"I turn 18 next year and will give the senior division a go. We'll see where I go from there."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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