The Te Awamutu Boxing Academy has secured a building in the heart of town and is gearing up to open next month.

Receiving the keys to 20 Rickit Rd is a huge step for the academy, which has been in the works for the last two years.

The first boxing programme will launch in Term 3, taking on a group of 10 local boys aged 11-12.

They will take part in a nationally-successful boxing programme aimed at boosting their physical, mental and emotional health.

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Wellington youths hard at work at the Naenae Boxing Academy, which the Te Awamutu Boxing Academy will be modelled on. Photo / Supplied
Wellington youths hard at work at the Naenae Boxing Academy, which the Te Awamutu Boxing Academy will be modelled on. Photo / Supplied

The academy will eventually move into running after-school boxing classes for nine to 18-year-olds, with boys and girls taking part on separate evenings.

The programme aims to improve the lives of young people in Te Awamutu through boxing.

It is modelled on a successful initiative by the Billy Graham Youth Foundation, which was set up by former Australasian boxing champion Billy Graham.

Te Awamutu Boxing Academy head coach Chris Graham (left) with brother Billy Graham (right) and Waipā mayor Jim Mylchreest at an interest night about the academy. Photo / Supplied
Te Awamutu Boxing Academy head coach Chris Graham (left) with brother Billy Graham (right) and Waipā mayor Jim Mylchreest at an interest night about the academy. Photo / Supplied

Te Awamutu's academy will be the seventh gym in New Zealand to host the programme.

At the helm is Chris Graham (boxing coach and brother of Billy Graham), Chris' daughter Erinna Lane (academy manager) and Te Awamutu's Quentin Wallace (also a boxing coach).

They have some hard work ahead of them in the next few weeks as they refurbish the building on Rickit Rd, the site of a former indoor mini golf course.

They will clean, paint and renovate to make way for rubber matting, a boxing ring, punching bags, gloves, skipping ropes, medicine balls and rowing machines. There will also be an office and bathrooms.

"At the moment the building is just a big empty space," Erinna says.

"But we want to transform it into a gym that our young people will be proud of."

After the Te Awamutu Courier ran the story about the boxing academy in April, the trust has been delighted with support from the community.

"We had really good feedback from the article," Erinna says.

They have received donations from private individuals, Te Awamutu Altrusa, DV Bryant Trust and Grassroots Trust.

But it needs even more help to cover operational costs.

"Jump in the ring with us and help us fulfil our mission to develop confident rangatahi," Erinna says.

There are three ways to help — make a one-off donation to the charitable trust, become an exclusive member of the Te Awamutu Boxing Academy '200 Club' or a corporate sponsor.

Businesses that can offer building services or supplies are also urged to get in touch.

For information about sponsorship, email tayouthdevelopment@gmail.com or visit www.facebook.com/TAboxingacademy or www.tayouthdevelopment.co.nz.