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by George Clark

The Timaru Boxing Club has a new coach.

Hayden Briggs (28) has been in and out of the Craigie Ave gym for more than 10 years, first attending a training session when he was 15.

“I was a bit of a troubled youth and ended up coming down here, which kept me out of mischief. I came and went in my teens but returned at 22 to train and condition for a year, had my first fight at 23 and fought through to 25 with a few wins and losses. It was all about self-control and self-discipline.”

Briggs replaced long-serving Timaru Boxing Association coach John Ensor, who retired at the end of last year.

“It was getting to the stage where the other coaches were seniors, volunteering their time for most of their life and decided it was time for new coaches to come in and step up. Liam Hall has helped for the last two years with John stepping down at the end of last year,” he said.

“I am here as a motivator and as a mentor. Liam is the one with the skill. Yes, I have amateur boxed but Liam climbed up the ladder and now wants to give back to his community.”

Briggs said the aim was to give youth guidance and self-discipline.

“You do not need to be out on the streets to fight. You can come down to the club and make something for yourself.

“Coming in from a young age teaches work ethics and we hope to give something back to the boxing-rich community that gave so much to us.”

While it would be great to have new members come and train, keen boxers must know they were in a fighting gym and not a fitness class.

“Realistically we want people to come down fit rather than coming here to get fit. We are happy to put time in and take people all around the country fighting, if they put in the time.

“We have a couple of up-and-comers and people who have had a few fights but we lost a few names with Covid-19 and their workloads.”

The club wanted to keep training legitimate “so no-one is afraid to come down and give it a go”.

Both Briggs and Hall are adamant anyone can be a boxer.

“When we spar it is a whole new ball game, with people sitting on the corner a wee bit scared and adrenaline through you. Everything is safe down here. We are not going to put you in the ring with the biggest guy or have you in there at all, until we think you are fit enough . . . you just need to apply yourself and will quickly realise if it is for you or not.”

Training is held on Monday and Wednesday nights, at 6pm at the Timaru Boxing Club in Craigie Ave.