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Never Surrender Boxing Health and Fitness Club members at their new premises. Photo: SUPPLIED

Ding-Ding on Pollen St for boxing club

A growing membership at Never Surrender Boxing Health and Fitness Club can now spar at a new venue after throwing in the towel at its former ring.
Secretary and boxing coach Shannen Middleton told The Profile the club, which has more than 100 members, made the decision to find a new premises after its base at Thames Jockey Club became “run down”.

“We have 35-plus kids training and it wasn’t ideal with the bouncy floors. Also one of our professional boxers, [Francis Waitai], put his foot through the floor at one training, so we didn’t want the kids training in there,” she said.
“We’ve been looking for a new place for a couple of years, and just by chance we came across this place.”
The new premises was an “awesome location”, she said.
“Really easy to get to for our adults and tamariki [children], there’s lots of parking and it’s a really clean and safe space for everyone.”
The new gym was also fitted with the club’s new gear, she said. “We’ve got a whole lot of new punchbags, new gloves and pads for the kids, some new headgear, speedballs and we have a new boxing ring as well.”
Shannen thanked the club treasurer Andrew Connaughton for his “tireless” work to find a new space and secure funding for its new boxing equipment.
“At the end of last year we received $8000 from Grassroots Trust and $11,500 from Thames-Coromandel District Council; [Andrew’s] built a great relationship with NZ Boxer, so we can get the most out of the funding we’ve received.”
The club membership was increasing at each weekly training session, particularly its tamariki classes whose members were aged between five and 12 years, she said.
“We had 25 at training the other day and then another 10 new kids turned up,” she said.
“Even if you’re not wanting to actually have a fight, you’re actually learning fighting skills, and building a lot of muscle memory with the pads.
“We’re adding more classes as much as we can, getting all our rangatahi [youth] involved and putting some good role models in front of some of our at-risk youth as well.”
Shannen said the club was also “absolutely stoked” for members Francis Waitai and Tasmyn Benny, who had competed in national and international rings.
“Francis last year fought in the Fight for Life and Tasmyn won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games [Gold Coast, 2018] – she was the first female to win a medal in boxing for New Zealand,” she said.
“Francis was an at-risk youth and just look at him now, professional boxer and New Zealand super middleweight champ.
“We’re absolutely stoked for them, you don’t have to be in a big city with all the flashiest gears to be good at anything, hard work and dedication will beat talent any day.”
Shannen encouraged more people to enter the ring.
“Come get fit, come get healthy, you’re going to meet people who have a totally different life to you, they become your whānau,” she said.