Ardon England’s main motivation for becoming a Tall Tree was to help those people who had similar experiences to himself.
“I want to help people that struggle with the same things I have,” he says. “If I can make someone’s journey that little bit easier, that is the biggest reward of being a Tall Tree.”
Ardon decided to channel his energy into developing a novel initiative that builds people’s confidence, strength and empowerment – through boxing.
He has created and launched Pride Box, the first ever LGBTQI+ boxing fitness classes and six-week boxing course in NZ, at Boxing Central in Auckland.
“I have been boxing for two years now and it has made a massive change to my life, my strength and my mental health,” he explains. “Boxing gives me an outlet if I am ever feeling stressed or anxious.”
He had seen the LGBTQI+ community dealing with hate crimes and wanted people to feel more confident within themselves.
“Boxing isn’t self-defence, but it teaches you how to protect yourself and have the confidence to get yourself out of a unfortunate situation if one was to arise,” he explains.
“Pride Box is something for our LGBTQI+ community that hasn’t been done before. By creating Pride Box and opening it up to our LGBTQI+ community, it makes others think twice before stereotyping people and putting them in boxes.
“It allows us as a community to take some of the power back that we have lost over years of discrimination. It has also allowed me to push forward and make changes in places like the boxing industry – which can sometimes feel like one of the hardest places to make change.”
Ardon says challenging the way people look at boxing gyms helps people realise that they shouldn’t put barriers in the way of achieving anything they want to achieve.
“We need to push back the barriers and boundaries to make sure everyone is included in spaces that for a long time haven’t necessarily been openly accessible or comfortable for our LGBTQI+ community.”
By using word of mouth and a little social media to slowly grow his Pride Box classes, Ardon is determined to continue breaking down the stigma and discrimination within the boxing industry and to make it a more inclusive environment for people.
Ardon says that while Pride Box is for the LGBTQI+ community, they definitely welcome any straight people that feel more comfortable training or being a part of the Pride Box community.
“The aim of this project is to create a safe and positive environment where everyone can learn new skills and improve their fitness with the great workout boxing provides. I am excited to see where this goes as it is the first project of its kind in NZ,” he says.
“We also have a six-week Pride Box course for adults and a six-week course for secondary schools coming up – and I’ve already got 10 people interested in these new courses, which is super exciting!”
Feedback is positive with one Pride Box attendee, Kerry Ranginui, saying, “My Pride Box class has introduced me to a new type of physical strength I didn’t know I could have. It’s also been great to interact with like-minded peers with all sorts of different physical abilities.”
Pridebox Fitness Classes | every Friday @ 5.45pm – 6.45pm.
First Class is FREE – there after $20 for a casual class and gym memberships are available.
All you need is boxing gloves (for hire at the gym for $5) and wraps and a positive attitude.