Thu 18 Apr 2019

Boxing clever

“I’ve got another quote,” Jesse Mahoney calls to say.

“Train hard to be hard to beat - it’s what BJ told me.”

The late WITT tutor BJ Hetet is one of the mentors who the Jesse, from Inglewood, credits with helping him in his work and sports achievements.

BJ, who also took Jesse to play at representative level for Taranaki in league, died suddenly earlier this year while playing his beloved game.

Jesse, who will be 20 in August, spent two years at WITT in 2015 and 2016 and reflects on the work he did there, and the support he received.

He is a prime example of a success story which has its roots in WITT’s drive to provide holistic teaching and mentoring to enable young people to expand their horizons.

He had planned for a life in the army, and was hugely frustrated when it didn’t work out. With a full complement of driving licences he was left contemplating work as a truck driver. At 17 the highly talented sports star fitted the profile of a frustrated young man in a “dark place”.

But exposure to WITT staff when he was on a STAR (Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource) engineering course following by a year studying sports and fitness with Kieran McKendry in the Taranaki Trades Academy at WITT opened an apprenticeship door with Energy Works, where he is today.

He’ll be thinking about BJ when he steps into a boxing ring in Darwin in a couple of weeks.

Jesse will represent New Zealand in Darwin at the Arafura Games – and there won’t be many who have represented their country in sports as diverse as boxing and equestrian. He was a member of the 2006 New Zealand Pony Club team which competed in Ireland.

Jesse takes the view that you get out of sport what you put into it – and he has found the same applies to his teachers and tutors. The more they put into him, the more he got out of it.

Academically at WITT, maths guru Gary Sharpe and Jesse’s nana – Barbara – were there for him. He received considerable pastoral support from WITT’s chaplain Tuari Reweti. He speaks highlight of WITT kaitakawaenga Allana Prestney – and, of course, BJ Hetet.

The young man who didn’t particularly enjoy his class time at secondary school left WITT with an outstanding student award.

Jesse’s mum Mandy – who graduated from WITT in 2009 and is now a clinical nurse in Occupational Health at Taranaki Base Hospital – saw the impact of positive teaching on her son.

“Jesse had encephalitis when he was seven and for a while had no balance. He also comes from a family where dyslexia is present,” she said.

“It was great to see him come under the wing of people who wanted to invest time and effort into him, because the results were clear to see.”

Jesse’s interest in boxing was encouraged in Waitara by another teacher whose work with him paid dividends. Trainer Keiron Toa steered Jesse to the North Island Golden Gloves tournament in Taupo last June and he came home with a title.

Now he’s boxing for New Zealand.

He will take amateur record of nine wins from 11 outings to Darwin – where he hopes to continue on a path to an ultimate goal of representing New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, in 2022.

With good teaching and hard work, anything could be possible…


Pictured: Jesse, at his home in Inglewood