In 2011, Matt was a youth worker at Zeal, a local youth Centre based in Henderson, when a group of youth from a couple of local street gangs started attending the youth centre. At a loss of how to engage these young people in pro social activities, Matt with his experience in boxing decided to start a boxing program. He thought at the very least, after a boxing session they would be too tired to get into trouble. Little did he know the effect it would have on these young men. As these guys slowly but surely started to turn their lives around, this grew a dream for Matt to one day dedicate his time to running a Youth Development / Boxing Gym in West Auckland.
In 2017 Matt (now the CEO of Zeal Education Trust) was approached by Sergeant Thompson from the Waitakere Police. Thompson discussed the Police’s interest in having a youth boxing gym established in West Auckland similar to the Naenae Boxing Academy that had received good publicity due to its work in the community in Lower Hutt. He knew Matt via Matt’s many years of youth development in West Auckland and that Matt had previously run a successful boxing program from ZEAL. Little did Thompson know; Matt’s long held dream to open a youth development boxing academy in West Auckland.
In Late 2018 Matt left Zeal to start the West Auckland Boxing Academy (now called West City Boxing) along with 2 of those youth that came in to Zeal all those years ago, now with their lives turned around and with a passion to give back to the community. Levi was one of those boys, then living under a bridge at the age of 15. Now a young man with a wife and kids, keen to help young people avoid the path that he started going down. Niwa was the other boy who when he started the boxing program in 2011 was already gaining a bad reputation with the local police, now a father, passionate boxer / Youth Worker and friend to the young people that attend West City Boxing.