Opened in 2005, the Naenae Boxing Academy, situated in Lower Hutt, is the dream child of Naenae-born Billy Graham (no, he’s not the American evangelist, although like his namesake, Billy, too, has a strong Christian faith).
Billy Graham is a former New Zealand and Australasian National Welterweight Boxing titleholder, who, at the age of eight, came under the wing of Dick Dunn, New Zealand’s legendary boxing coach.
To this day, Billy Graham acknowledges the role that Dick Dunn played in his life mentoring him and turning him away from a lifestyle which was rapidly running off the rails.
Now Billy is giving back to others what he himself received. Through the boxing training they receive at the gym, young men and boys, who have often had a hard start in life, are taught self-discipline and life skills.
Bible Society staff members, Stephen Opie and Bruce Peterson, recently visited the gym to give Billy some Metamorphosis New Testaments for the boys, to encourage them to engage with the Word of God.
While there, the three men couldn’t resist a bit of boxing horseplay, which saw Stephen, on the floor, defeated by a triumphant Bruce, right. Billy Graham, centre, refereed the fun match.
This article is from The Word at Work – Spring 2011.