Outside the box: Building ‘respect and integrity for themselves and with each other’

BUILDING STRENGTH: Shane Connelly (front centre) takes a break from training on Tuesday with his students. Picture: Alasdair McDonald
BUILDING STRENGTH: Shane Connelly (front centre) takes a break from training on Tuesday with his students. Picture: Alasdair McDonald

Boxing has long been an effective outlet for teenage energy, and an avenue to building self-confidence and self-worth.

It has been dubbed “Fight Club”, but it is more than just learning footwork and combinations, it is keeping kids in school and giving others a space to express themselves.

Steven Clarke takes part in the Tuesday sessions at Bega’s Funhouse Studio with trainer Shane Connelly of Connelly Fight Labs.

“It keeps the boy’s fitness up and helps with self-esteem,” he said.

“It’s given them something to look at for their future and keeps them off the street.”

Participants come from as far as Eden and Wallaga Lake for the sessions, organised by Wandarma Drug and Alcohol Service.

“They look forward to Tuesdays now because there’s not much for the boys to do around here,” Mr Clarke said.

“A few have taken it up as a full-time sport, and a few want to become amateur fighters.

“Shane is a great teacher because it’s not only about boxing, it’s about fitness.”

Promising footballer Matt Parsons, who plays with the Cronulla Sharks Under 18’s rugby league squad, also takes part.

“It helps me with my fitness, and some of the guys talk about it all the time,” he said.

Mr Connelly, who also runs programs with Bega High School and Lumen Christi Catholic College, said some of his students who were having trouble at school just a matter of months ago are now more focused and receiving awards.

“These kids come to boxing, then go back to school,” he said.

“They come in and I make sure everyone shakes hands and pays respect.

“It helps build respect and integrity for themselves and with each other.”