Parker and Māori-owned gym team up for youth

By Leah Te Whata
  • North Island: West Coast

A Joseph Parker charity auction has seen more than $2,200 raised for a Whanganui-based, Māori owned and operated Muay Thai gym, Awa Kings.

Tonight, Awa Kings youth will also have the opportunity to train with one of their all-time boxing heroes.

Awa Kings are showing rangatahi the ropes when it comes to channelling their energy into something positive.

Awa Kings head trainer, Lee Ashford says, "The boys come to me because they need an outlet, something to hit, someone to talk to, and sometimes the bags and the gym around them is a safe haven for them."

Ngā Wairiki Ngāti Apa descendant Rawhiti Karamaina says, "Most of the people on the streets, they just get mad they just wanna rumble, especially at school they hold beef and grudges against each other so it's a good place to come out here and just release that energy and say it's all good."

They're gearing up for a meet and greet and training session with Parker tonight.

Ashford says, "Knowing that he's a world champion in his discipline taking the time to come out to little old Whanganui, that's a big goal for them, just to see a great Polynesian making it in the world for himself."

Parker says, "Awa Kings, what I'm really looking forward to tonight is getting amongst them, sharing a bit of my boxing knowledge I have- but also seeing how the gym is set up, seeing how they operate and seeing what sorts of things I can do to help them."

Last night’s charity evening with Parker saw more than $2,000 raised for the Māori-owned and operated gym.

Ashford says, "The whole gym's just starting to come together so we're just really humble and appreciative to everyone that's been able to support us."

Awa Kings is Parker's last stop before heading up the Whanganui River to go hunting for the first time.