“I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa until I was 16. It was cool; good and bad, different. The expectation of men in Capetown is different for colored men. Men are not allowed to be soft and I think that is why there is so much more violence. We are not able to show emotion so we fight. I do think about having dark skin, it has probably made me more cautious of where I am, aware of what is around me. It was important to look out for that sort of stuff where I was from.
I have been in Christchurch since I was 16 and now I am 31. When I finished a year of college I got into working with juvenile kids. They came straight out of youth prisons. I was picking kids up in Amberley in the morning, bring them to a halfway house here. We did activities with them, general everyday activities, we would try and help them get their licenses. We would try and bridge the gaps and help them feel more reformed. I really like that. Boxing was cool, I managed to bring a couple who were really into it. It was cool, some of them got out of the gangs and got normal jobs. I didn’t try to tell them don’t drink, don’t do drugs, that is not realistic. I told them to go to your job, be responsible. Also, that you don’t have to be hard, a bloke, that tough guy; to be cool. I tried to show them that that is not what makes someone cool. A cool guy is someone who is comfortable and friendly; just someone who is a nice person. It is not the strong or the tough or the good looking but I think amongst men, there is a charisma that really stands out among other men, confidence.
Now that I am a bit older I don’t care about the image that I have or the image that other people have of me. If you like me, that’s cool, I will treat you the same way you treat me, really. If you are narrow-minded and stuff I just don’t have time for you. I feel like the boxing has helped a lot with the confidence. All that blokey stuff, what it really comes down to at the end of the day is ‘do you want to be a real man?’. The fact that I did the boxing gave me the confidence to like my girlie movies and slow music and stuff like that. If they call me less of a man I say let’s go see who is a man outside. Not that it needs to be that way but there is always that. Where I am from, if you really want to be a man, that’s what it is.
I don’t tend to do things I don’t want to do. I have always been this way. I don’t get influenced really unless I want to do something I won’t do it. I will happily tell someone to get…. My dad told me when I was real young, he didn’t drill it into me but it has always stuck with me, ‘if you believe you are right then just stand up for yourself, no matter what’; and I always have.
Be yourself, do what you love, be comfortable with that. It is ok to not buy into stereotypes, they don’t make us who we are.”