Alhaji Sheriff (left) and Tawhiri Toheriri-Hallet (right) - Photo / File
Gisborne City Hit Pit Boxing Club may be small but it’s fierce in building champions. With multiple national titles, coach Jim Kahukoti is preparing his athletes to represent New Zealand on the international stage.
One of the champions includes 16-year-old Alhaji Sheriff, from Ngāti Porou and South Africa who won the national 66 kg Golden Glove Champion title this year.
His goal is to make it to the Olympics.
“It’s going to be a lot of hard work to get there but I think I can do it,” Sheriff says.
Alhaji Sheriff - Photo / File
His tuakana 19-year-old Tawhiri Toheriri-Hallet, of Ngāti Porou, won bronze in the 69 kg division at the national competition this year and has multiple titles under his belt.
“I'm the oldest boxer here at Gisborne City Hit Pit. The most important thing is seeing the children wanting to reach the next level,” he says.
Tawhiri Toheriri-Hallet - Photo / File
They train every day, up to four a day running on land, in the pool and in the boxing gym.
“It's hard work, like you saw today – four hours of training. It's hard work from the beginning until the end.”
Sheriff says, “I’ve learned how to work hard, push myself in deep waters when things are tough, and not to give up.”
The man behind their success is Coach Kahukoti.
“I see them definitely representing the country in the future - Commonwealth, Olympic Games,” Kahukoti says.
“I’ve found that a lot of the kids that come here come from struggling backgrounds, struggling homes and they’ve been the champions.”
Alhaji Sheriff (left) slips a left hook from clubmate Tawhiri Toheriri-Hallet (right) - Photo / File
For years fundraising has been their only means to pay for the club expenses, so the coach is calling for support.
“I need to come up initially with two grand, that’s the lease on this place, so $2000 a month, probably wear and tear on equipment, travel accommodation you could probably chuck in another five or six thousand on top of that for the year so that’s what I have to come up with," Kahukoti says.
“My goal is to make champions for life so if I can do that with some easing of the financial burdens that run this place that would be awesome.”