Nelson College for Girls boxer Lily-Belle Gifkins, 13, hits a hand pad at Victory Boxing.

Boxing helps girls’ fitness and confidence

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In amongst the hustle and bustle that surrounds Victory Boxing, a group of girls from schools around Nelson get together every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon to skip, run and box their way to higher confidence and better health.

Trainer Sharon Tarapipipi has been working with the girls since the Victory Boxing Charitable Trust opened its doors three years ago. She says girls that attend grow in confidence, self-assurance and develop a bond with the place and each other.

“For some, they come here because there’s issues at school with bullying and that kind of thing, just to give them confidence. For others, it’s all about fitness.”

Penelope Taulafo, 10, of Birchwood School, shakes hands with Victory Boxing trainers after a training session last week. Photos: Andrew Board.
Penelope Taulafo, 10, of Birchwood School, shakes hands with Victory Boxing trainers after a training session last week. Photos: Andrew Board.

Victory Boxing Charitable Trust was founded in 2013 to help local kids get fit and develop respect. Since then it has grown to include classes six days a week from its Vanguard St gym, with various ages and abilities.

The third edition of its major fundraiser, Fight4Victory, is being held on November 5.

Money raised from the Fight4Victory event goes directly to helping run the youth classes at the gym.

The girls’ class is one that has been a constant since the gym was founded. Over the years, Sharon has seen dozens of girls come and go but says the comradery amongst them has remained a the same.

“Because we have such a big age range, from 8 to 18, we have the older girls, who have been here for a lot longer, role model for the younger girls. They step up and see who needs a hand or who needs some positive words of encouragement and they deliver it, even without us having to say anything. I think they really enjoy being looked up to and I think those younger girls enjoy having role models too.”

Ten-year-old Penelope Taulafo, of Birchwood School, has been coming along to Victory Boxing for three years and says wanted to get more confident and fitter.

She says she loves her boxing sessions at the gym and feels much better than when she started.

“I felt like I wasn’t doing enough [to stay fit]. But also confidence, because I wasn’t really confident around people, but now I am. I felt more shy when I wasn’t doing this.”

Lily-Belle Gifkins, 13, is another who’s seen the benefit of boxing. The Nelson College for Girls student says she’s been coming since the start of the school year and loves it.

“I enjoy it a lot. Meeting new people and getting fit. I enjoyed it right from the start.”

Sharon says the impact on some of the girls is immense.

“We get letters and cards and some of the messages inside those cards are pretty powerful. You don’t know what people are bringing in with them, you can see in some of them but you don’t always know what they carry with them during the day. But after a session you do see them walk out a little taller, those endorphins have kicked in and they take that away, and hopefully it helps them through the next few days.”

For more information about Victory Boxing, visit www.victory boxing.org.nz.