Sunday, 16 December 2018

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Youth boxing gym looking for a new venue  

By Jordan Gower

Tamati Bryers, a te reo Māori teacher at Mercury Bay Area School, is passionate about teaching and helping young people - hence his career path in education.

Extending his passion outside the classroom, Tamati has a few months ago started up a youth boxing gym in a spare shed on the property he’s renting in Whitianga. He’s running the gym with Monique Taylor, a fellow teacher at MBAS, and Ngapuhi Hauraki, a Whitianga-resident and an experienced boxing coach.

In a short period of time the gym has become very popular and valuable for the kids who attend. There’s a speedbump in the road though, as Tamati has received notice to move out of the property he’s renting before the end of the year.

“When the gym first started, we had about four to six kids coming for a few hours every day,” says Tamati. “I came up with the idea of starting the gym when I saw some kids who needed some guidance in their workouts. I was an amateur fighter in Australia when I was younger and I thought I could use my experience constructively.”

The gym has at the moment 15 students who regularly attend, split into two groups of juniors and seniors. The groups train twice a week and Tamati says he’s already seeing a change in the students, as well as some outstanding natural talent. “Some of the kids come and go, but the ones who need it most seem to stick to it,” says Tamati. “It’s all really positive. They all love having an extracurricular activity that they’re good at.”

Boxing teaches discipline and control, it’s a great outlet for energy and is also an excellent form of constructive exercise. “Often times boxing gyms can attract kids that are feeling a little lost and need somewhere to get rid of their excess energy and even their excess anger,” says Tamati. “And ours is no different. We offer a controlled environment where the kids can learn new skills and put their energy somewhere useful. We’re already seeing them becoming more confident and more in charge of what they’re doing.”

It’s not only Tamati who has been seeing the changes in the students either. “I’ve had almost all the parents thanking me because the gym is helping their children so much,” says Tamati. “One mother sent me a really inspiring message about the positive impacts the boxing gym has on her son. She was overwhelmed by the changes in his attitude. It’s really nice to hear, it makes me feel like it’s paying off.

“The changes aren’t only with the students. It’s been great for me too. I’m becoming a better boxing coach as time goes on and my knowledge of the sport just keeps growing.”

Tamati’s goal for the gym is to continue to get bigger and better and to help more kids find their passion. “We have a space for young people that’s engaging and empowering,” says Tamati. “We’re getting these kids off their iPhones and away from the computer games they were constantly playing and we motivate them to do something practical and fun too. As a coach I feel empowered by the fact that the boxing gym in Thames once started off like us - in a shed - and now they have a Commonwealth Games bronze medalist [Tasman Benny in the 45kg - 48kg division at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games].

“It’s a real shame that I have to move out of the property where the gym is,” says Tamati. “The situation as it is at the moment works perfectly. We need somewhere to continue, just another shed would be fine. It would be so sad to see the gym stop because we can’t find a new venue. If anyone out there has something suitable, I’d love to hear from them so we can continue this project.”

Anyone who can help Tamati with a venue can send him a private message via Facebook.

Pictured are students Miller Vincent (left) and Jet Valdez working out at Tamti Bryers’s boxing gym.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.