South Auckland’s Papatoetoe Boxing Club forced to close doors after 30 years

For three decades, Grant and Mary Arkell have dedicated their lives to helping the South Auckland community through boxing.

Back in 1990, Arkell opened the doors to his first boxing club, in Otahuhu, with professional boxer Manny Santos.

However after five different locations and hundreds of members including Joseph Parker and two-time New Zealand middleweight champion Mose Auimatagi, last year the Papatoetoe Boxing Club was hit by the financial affects of Covid-19.

Good Morning – it with a heavy heart that we announce the closure of Papatoetoe Boxing Club. 2020, we got through the…

Lockdowns in Auckland meant the Pokies fund Arkell heavily relied on dried up.

The club can no longer afford to stay open, which means the club has two weeks left before the doors close, possibly for good.

Arkell has been a trainer for the past 30 years and his wife Mary deals with the admin side of running the business.

He told the Herald people have told him to raise the member’s fee, however, he stands behind his decision.

Currently Papatoetoe Boxing Club members are charged a $10 weekly fee and Arkell says if he were to raise the fee many of his members would not be able to afford it.

Like many other people who have walked through the club doors, Tino Honey was headed down the wrong path and says boxing and the Arkells’ support gave him confidence .

“The love and support from Grant and Mary it’s made a difference in a lot of peoples lives,” including Honey himself.

At the age of 12 Honey and his dad looked at a few boxing gyms but said they didn’t feel right until he stepped foot in the Papatoetoe Boxing Club.

“We would go to training at 6 o’clock, train our butts off and they would always be there to support us, as well as taking us to tournaments to fight.”

Papatoetoe was their fifth location after being in Otahuhu, Otara and various other south Auckland locations.

“I know Grant and Mary love the sport but I know their love is seeing kids achieve, Honey told the Herald.

When children first walk through his doors Arkell says they may not have talent, however he can see how boxing has changed their lives.

“Parents come to me and said their kids are doing better at school and have more confidence,” which Arkell says is the best part of the job.

Arkell is “disappointed” the Government “won’t support our boxing gym”.

“Boxing gyms save so many at-risk kids all through the country.”

No matter what the future holds for the Papatoetoe Boxing Club, Arkell says he and his wife are determined to continue doing the work they do in the community.

But he is adamant South Auckland is where they should stay.

“I will always help the kids,,” Arkell told the Herald.

“It wasn’t just coming to the gym and training, it was taking us places as a boxing family and experiencing places,” Honey said.

Director of Brown Pride Johnnie Timu says he would not be where he is without the support he received from Arkell.

“I wouldn’t have learnt everything about mindset and discipline without Pap boxing.”

Brown Pride is a social enterprise in South Auckland which runs fitness programmes to fund community workshops.

“If there is a coach or a person I’d want to be it would be Grant, a trainer who puts people first,” Timu told the Herald.

Max Stowers and Tane Tautalanoa say the Papatoetoe Boxing club is not just a boxing club, but it is a second home.

Honey says the closure news is sad as it is an “end to an era”, however, he knows it is just the closure of a building.

“Wherever Grant and Mary go, that’s where home is.”

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