Kerri and Billy have established a boxing academy that’s part personal mission and part family collaboration. For Billy, having been trained by legendary Boxing coach Dick Dunn, it’s been his mission to spread the positive life lessons that impacted him. For Kerri and their family, it has been a remarkable life journey that has seen them wrap themselves around this mission… each adding their own unique energies and skills to bring more hope to hundreds of Kiwis.
Latu’s story is a great example of how a legacy of hope can pass from one generation to another.
Life was tough growing up and Latu recalls just living for the day with no thought for the future. Boxing with Billy has helped to change all of that… it’s pushed him further and harder than he ever thought possible – now he’s far more determined as a result. READ MORE
When we visited the gym, we couldn’t help but notice Daniel giving everything 110% effort. He’s been coming to Billy’s gym for 3 years and even does extra training… like running at 5am. But it’s not just about the boxing - Daniel recalled memorising the ‘values posters’ Billy put up on a wall. Daniel said, “They’re good things to live by.”
For those who haven’t seen these posters, they’re titled: Obedience; Kindness; Compassion; Consideration; Honesty & Truthfulness; Duty; and Responsibility. When asked what Daniel thought ‘hope’ was… he talked about it being an inspiration that carries you through stuff. Well, with posters like they have here, there’s no shortage of inspiration.
Sergeant David Stone has known Billy for quite a few years. In fact he says, “Police share the same values Billy instills in his boys.”
When we asked David to reflect on what he sees happening between Billy and the boys at the gym, he said, “In Billy, the boys find someone who genuinely cares about them... he’s there for them like a father should be, and the boys sense that.” He went on to say, “Young boys crave the kind of love, support and guidance they get from Billy and Kerri.”
When asked about the role that ‘hope’ plays in all of this… ”Billy’s life models hope. He never gives up believing there’s good in everyone and he gives everything he has to help others succeed. It’s a powerful thing.”
Evan’s smile is hard to miss at the gym. When we spoke with him he talked about past trouble at school, and battling personal anger because of bullying. But today, having been coming to the gym for a year, he says things have changed. He’s learning about ‘respect’, and realizes “what goes around comes around.”
It’s interesting that the sport of boxing has taught Evan how to avoid physical conflict outside the ring and to use ‘words’ to find a way through. We can only hope that Evan keeps learning and growing as he’s been doing.
Jessie has been at Billy’s gym for a year now. He’s giving this his full commitment and doesn’t currently play other sports. He noted that he didn’t talk to people much when he first started… but now he’s much more open. He also mentioned going to a couple of other gyms… “But they were nothing like what’s here – here it’s like a family.”
Jessie has been working hard and is much fitter than he used to be, but when asked about Billy’s ‘values’ posters on the wall… Jessie agreed that there was a definite relationship between these ‘values’ and the ‘boxing’ that’s taught here.
And to help make all this happen, Jessie’s Mum and Dad work really hard to get him to training – “it’s just one way they show they really care.”
Well known Kiwi sports broadcaster, Keith Quinn (seen here with Latu Talu), recalls an ‘out of the blue’ phone call… “Keith, Billy Graham here. Will you come and help me with my gym?” More than 6 years later Keith continues to serve as a Trustee and frequently MCs events in support of the gym and its work.
When asked for his reflections on Kerri and Billy, he said things like: “Exceptional and selfless”… “They’ve altered their lives to make this happen for others”… “Phone calls all hours of the day and night, 8 days a week”… “Incredible energy”. READ MORE
Ryan first met Billy at his school – Billy was touring and talking about anti-bullying. A short time later Ryan started at the gym, partly because Ryan’s Mum liked what the gym stood for. To date it’s been a 4 year journey, Ryan says, “Billy pushes us hard but I know I’ve got to work hard if I’m going to get what I want.”
While Ryan also plays Rugby and League, it’s largely through his boxing that he’s become fitter, stronger and faster. When we spoke with Ryan it was plain to see that he holds big hopes for the future.
Tom is another of the boys who works hard at his training and sees a strong relationship between Billy’s ‘values’ posters and the boxing. “These are values for life and they also affect your attitude to others in the ring,” he said.
Tom also talked about how being here opened doors to new experiences, recounting a visit to Ronald MacDonald House where boys from the gym helped cooked for families there. Tom saw this as another way to give back to others, “Because I’ve been given so much.”
Viko’s introduction to boxing was no surprise… there’s a family history in the sport. But while this is only his first year full-time, he knows it’ll take a lot of hard work to do well.
Viko has also learned two of his ‘values’ (these are ‘life attitude’ guides that the gym requires the boys to learn)… and he’s working on others. If he passes his ‘values’ tests, he’ll achieve his full gym membership. Viko’s determination is obvious – we really hope he achieves his goals.