Shining a light on NZ volunteers

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian

Volunteers are the backbone of this great country.

The commitment of hundreds of thousands of unpaid workers gives our nation one of the highest standards of living in the world.

A volunteer is defined as a voluntary action of an individual or group giving time or labour for community service.

Last Sunday's TV 1 "Good Sorts" program grabbed my attention, when they shined a little light on the huge contributions of one of my mates.

Rotorua amateur boxing trainer Rex Jenkins has given nearly 50 years of unbroken voluntary service, coaching young men and women without financial reward.

Many aspire to have a big garage or swimming pool in their back yard - but not Rex Jenkins.

The Jenkins family has a fully kitted out boxing gymnasium with a full-sized boxing ring metres from their back door.

Over the last 46 years, Rex Jenkins has produced a never-ending string of Boxing New Zealand National and Golden Gloves champions.

During the 1980's, Jenkins invested a lot of time in developing two young men into senior boxers, who could hold their quarter with the best in Australasia and the Oceania region.

Darren Nicol and Colin Hunia both wore the black singlet of New Zealand on a number of occasions, with each winning a pair of Oceania Boxing Championships medals.

A decade later, Colin Hunia regained his hunger for success in the squared ring and boxed for his country at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada.

Other National senior champions followed in Nicol and Hunia's footsteps, in Quinton Nicol, David Jenkins, Kere Brooks, Karl Santo and Julian Ngatai.

However, it's the youngsters of Rotorua which Rex Jenkins has unstintedly given a lifetime of commitment to foster and develop their talents in the boxing ring.

It is this writer's belief, that boxing gives youngsters, who may have problems in life and/or little success at school, the tools to improve their life.

Motivation, time keeping, fitness, discipline, respect and most importantly self-belief, are life skills that many young boxers store away for future use.

Rex Jenkins delivers the very basics of the sport from the first day a new recruit walks into his gym.

A straight right and left are instilled into the young boxers to become automatic responses throughout their boxing careers.

The Rotorua boxing trainer sets boundaries for all his boxers, whether a complete novice or experienced senior pugilist, once sending one his senior stars home from the Golden Gloves when he failed to make the required weight.

Success that comes to the Jenkins boxers in and out of the ring is a true family affair, with his wife, sons, daughters and grandchildren playing a huge supporting role in Team Jenkins.

The greatest tribute one can pay to Rex Jenkins, is that his boxers are better citizens of our country when they leave the Jenkins boxing gym than when they walked in the front door for the first time.



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