Boxing mentor in Local Heroes award ring

A Lower Hutt man who has helped turn around the lives of hundreds of young men is being recognized for doing something he loves.In 2005, Billy Graham set up the Naenae Boxing Academy, a place of support and guidance for young men. Fifty to 80 youths attend the academy each week – and many would maybe be in trouble with the law if it was not for the gym. "We are involved with more issues than just boxing," Mr Graham said. "We teach them about things like manners ... We want them to be the best they can be."

His work is being recognised in the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards and he is a finalist in the Local Heroes category.The awards – partly sponsored by The Dominion Post – are separated into five categories: New Zealander of the Year, Senior New Zealander of the Year, Young New Zealander of the Year, Community of the Year and Local Heroes.A section of judges, which includes former prime minister Jim Bolger, business leader Dr Roderick Deane, and opera virtuoso Dame Malvina Major, has named three finalists in each group.

"It's humbling to know that there are so many Kiwis out there who are contributing significantly to the positive increase of our nation," Mr Bolger said.The winners will be announced in Auckland on February 2. Other finalists in the Local Heroes category are Auckland's Stephanie Harawira, for establishing a local community centre and development programmes to help families and young people in need, and Hawkes Bay's Ros Rowe, a youth worker and dedicated founder of the Leg-Up Trust, which teaches less fortunate youth life skills.


Post a Comment