A Boxing Academy started by the U Turn Trust just 12 months ago is "changing lives" for the better.

Using the disciplines of Olympic style amateur boxing, Flaxmere Boxing Academy is giving young men from throughout the region something positive to focus on, inspiring them to become leaders.

"We are creating a new ilk of man, one that respects and loves women and family - boxing is the vehicle to do that," Henare O'Keefe says.

"I have had this in the back of my mind for about five years now, it's about taking our beloved suburb of Flaxmere forward, it fits with other community programmes that we have like Flaxmere Heroes, the community garden and Tunu Tunu."


The academy teaches values of dedication, determination, discipline and respect with classes for eight to 15 year olds as well as 16 plus, three afternoons and evenings a week, with a forth session added during boxing season.

"I was concerned about the number of young men who resort to violence to solve problems, so when former lightweight champion of New Zealand, Craig McDougall came into our lives, I knew this was the exact ilk of man we wanted to expose our young men to.

"They come through the academy and get exposed to these men who are warriors in the ring and gentleman out of it."

It is a space where love is shared and expressed, with a no tolerance approach to violence or bad language. A year after opening its doors success stories are flowing, from parents, schools coaches and the children involved.

As skills develop, some senior members are visiting other clubs with Mr McDougall and other coaching staff.

He has also developed a 10-week FBA Sports serve programme, run in four primary schools, working with up to 120 children.

Using fun movement, games and positive messages to improve decision making, engagement and reduce truancy, with the support of funding from Kiwi Sports.

A sold-out celebratory dinner and auction fundraiser for the Flaxmere Boxing Academy, will be held tomorrow night at the Elwood Road Function Centre.


"It's open to everybody who cares about the direction of young men, healing them and promoting a positive lifestyle."

Billy Graham is guest speaker and sporting memorabilia will be up for grabs in an auction.