Award-winning young boxer Cooper Thompson with Wairarapa Boxing Academy coach, Laurence Titter. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

BOXING

MARCUS ANSELM
marcus.anselm@age.co.nz

Cooper Thompson is one of dozens of Masterton youngsters learning about life through boxing.

The Wairarapa Boxing Academy celebrated a year of success at its awards night last Thursday.

Thompson was one of the multiple award winners earned plaudits for the skills earned in the ring.

The 14-year-old is already a leading sportsman in the region, having represented Wairarapa-Bush rugby at age group level.

But the Wairarapa College student, who completed year nine on Friday, is now focused on the sweet science.

He was the club’s first Wellington regional winner in August.

Thompson picked up four trophies at the prizegiving at St John Hall, Masterton, including the head coach’s award.

“I’ve played rugby all my life since I was four years old, all through the age groups. But I just fell in love with boxing right from the start.”

But the academy is about more than becoming a skilful pugilist.

It is part of the Wairarapa Youth Charitable Trust and has close links to the Billy Graham Youth Foundation.

Head coach Laurence Titter lived and trained with Graham, the Lower Hutt boxing guru.

Its goal is to help Wairarapa young people achieve their full potential and contribute to the community.

Gym manager Simon Ellis said forming confident young people was more important than results in the ring.

“We will never turn someone away just because they can’t afford to pay.

“The only thing which someone needs to belong to our gym is that they need to adhere to our very basic rules.”

Wairarapa Boxing Academy members at the club’s 2019 prizegiving. PHOTO/ LIZ RIKITI

The club has four key rules – it bans swearing, hats or beanies, phones during training, and alcohol or drugs – and has eight key values as part of its Passport to Success.

Addressing the audience at the prizegiving, Titter said the club’s approach was about developing all aspects of a young person’s life, not just their sporting skills.

“We’re not just there for the high points, we want to be there for the low points too.

“And we will try and make sure they don’t get too much lower.”

The club has bought a van and is aiming to secure the Dixon St hall long term.

The academy has a programme of fundraising events planned for 2020 ahead of the new school year.

Wairarapa Boxing Academy 2019 prizewinners

Head Coach’s award: Cooper Thompson

Hardest Trainer: Cooper Thompson

Most Improved Senior: Connah Rogonui

Most Improved Senior Girl: Nikita Herlihy

Most Promising Boxer: Cooper Thompson

Commissioner’s Challenge Coin: Ben Simpson

Best Listener: Cooper Thompson

Most Enthusiastic Senior: Billy Smith

Most Enthusiastic Junior: Miles Garrett

WBA Personality: Jaxon Kelly

Most Improved Junior Boy: Dante Davis-Smith

Most Improved Junior Girl: Daisee Omundsen