New Rocky club aims to give those at risk a sporting chance
A FORMER amateur and professional boxer, Russell Thomas has experienced firsthand the physical and mental benefits of the age-old sport.
He now wants to use that to help engage disadvantaged and Indigenous youth at a new boxing club in the city.
Under the umbrella of his organisation, Rockhampton Boxing and Sports Promotions, Mr Thomas has established the club at the YWCA building in Robinson St.
Classes will start at 6pm on Monday, with attendance numbers to dictate their regularity.
"I've been involved with boxing for over 30 years and I've had quite a few people approach me about opening a boxing club here,” Mr Thomas said.
"I think it's a great opportunity to give something back to the community and help some of the younger people who can get left by the wayside or fall through the cracks.”
Mr Thomas said it was not simply about teaching boxing skills but rather associated skills such as discipline, hard work and social interaction.
"We want to provide a safe place for them to train and somewhere they can unload their troubles and burdens.
"We want to steer them in the right direction and help teach them some valuable life skills.”
Chris Warren Homes and Stanwell have come on board as major sponsors.
Stanwell's facilities manager Marcus Taylor said his organisation had helped buy equipment.
"We really supported the program because it does align well with the focus we have at the moment around youth suicide and education and awareness around mental health,” he said.
"These facilities are targeting the at-risk youth and it gives people a safe space (and a chance) to build a healthy circle of friends.
"It's that 'healthy body, healthy mind' ideal. It builds a good baseline for people to change their lives from - they get some positive reward from improving in that sporting sphere and they get some confidence to grow and develop in other areas.”
Chris Warren, owner of Chris Warren Homes, has contributed countless man-hours and material to the club.
"There's not a lot of bells and whistles here, it's about good solid hard work,” he said.
"There's a lot of under-privileged kids out there and if they've got nothing to do they get themselves in trouble, so it's giving them something to do ... get them motivated and it can only be beneficial to them moving forward.”
Mr Thomas said the club was open to the broader community. There is a membership fee and a fee for individual classes but he said given the focus on helping disadvantaged youth, that would be waived for those unable to pay it.