Young boxers pack a punch

Local children showed off their boxing skills on Saturday 28 July, thanks to an initiative that allows underage prospective boxers to train at no cost.

The Woodstock-based Kings Boxing Gym provides this opportunity to every child with an interest in the sport. There are currently 30 boys and girls, between seven and 17 years of age, being trained for free by top professional boxing coaches.

On Saturday they sparred against one another in full boxing gear and in front of a vocal crowd of parents and community members. However, young girls entered the ring one by one and pledged their support before things got heated and boxers exchanged punches.

“Hi my name is Qoilah, I live in Thornton and I come from Kings Boxing Gym. We would just like to invite all the parents to bring their kids to our boxing gym. We have four coaches. It’s fun and it keeps your mind active. And don’t forget it’s free of charge, so come to Kings Boxing Gym,” said one girl, to loud cheers.

The gym was started by Louw Malherbe, multiple winner of the Berg River Canoe Marathon, whose passion is to teach children leadership skills through boxing. The gym aims to uplift children in the neighbourhood and keep them off the streets and away from drugs, alcohol and gangsterism while their parents are at work.

Malherbe addressed the audience just before the young boxers took to the ring of the fully equipped gym built from scratch in a refurbished warehouse in James Street, on Saturday.

“When we started this we had a heart for Woodstock. We had a heart for the children. We wanted to start something for the community,” Malherbe said.

He explained that the academy is run under the Kings Trust, a non-profit organisation. To make it sustainable the trust uses a system of charging all members over the age of 18 while younger ones get training at no financial cost. “We want to see every child in the street come and join this boxing club to have training and have some fun. We will accommodate everybody, numbers allowing,” said Malherbe.

He added that the initiative would help get children off the streets while their parents are at work. “Often both parents are working and children are on the streets after school. We wanted to give them an opportunity to give them fitness and discipline and to train and belong to a sports community.” Malherbe added: “The best way to reach the youth is to engage them in a sport such as boxing to teach discipline, build confidence, develop a sense of achievement and enforce strong values.“

He stressed that boxing would help instil discipline and not aggression in the children­.

The project also sets out to uplift the community, and parents and trainers are essential to its success, said Malherbe.

After sparring, the winners received medals­.