Time is running out for competitive boxer Latu Talu as he dreams of wearing the silver fern and representing New Zealand in boxing.
Cannons Creek local, Latu is two time national boxing champion and last year won the Australia Golden Gloves in the under 60kg division.
Latu says his next goal is to compete as a kiwi overseas, but the passport application he has lodged with New Zealand immigration can take up to four years, which maybe too late.
I reckon I only have 4 years left of competitive boxing, says 26 year-old Latu. My coach doesn’t want me to fight past 30 (years), as the risk of permanent head injury is too high.
For his outstanding achievements in 2015 he was awarded “Migrant of the Year” by the New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment.
Latu’s road to becoming a New Zealander and a successful boxer has been a challenge and his accomplishments so far have been earned through perseverance and grit.
When he first came to New Zealand he found it hard to fit in to NZ Society.
He could not speak English and he moved around New Zealand staying with different family members, sometimes living in crowded conditions.
In his late teens he found himself in Naenae and after a period of hanging out with the wrong crowd noticed a new boxing gym had opened.
Immediately the sport appealed to him because the results were totally dependent on him and how hard he trained.
It was at the Naenae Boxing Academy that he met Billy Graham the Head Coach, boxing academy patron and former New Zealand and Australasian welterweight boxing champion.
Billy Graham has been a steady influence in Latu’s life.
Latu says, Most coaches only care about winning, but Billy shows genuine concern for me and doesn’t want me to get hurt.
He says it was Billy who helped him to become Naenae Boxing Academy’s first NZ national champion boxer in 2007.
Billy Graham believed in him and now Latu wants to encourage others the way he has been encouraged.
Latu started working as the Head Coach of the boxing academy in Cannons Creek four years ago when he was only 22-years old.
Latu says he is proud to be doing something that is making a difference to the community.
The boxing academy is all about family, you feel love and energy in here. The parents of the kids also feel it as well and they are building a strong loving community, he says.
Latu wants to look back on his life and know he has made a difference in the community.
He wants to be known as a role model for young New Zealanders and inspire them to achieve their goals.
If you are interested in supporting the work at Cannons Creek Boxing Academy please contact them using this link.