Three years ago Danny Cheetham had an idea to help the troubled youth of Moree.
Through his work at the PCYC with co-trainer Chalky Rice, he had seen the difference his much loved sport - boxing - could make to young people who had lost their way.
With little more than this idea, some funds and a lot of hard work, Cheetham, along with Rice, set up the Moree Boxing Academy.
Back then Cheetham’s soul purpose was to provide an environment where the youth of Moree could come to train, to learn the sweet science of boxing, and to be part of something bigger than themselves - a team.
Three years on, Cheetham’s academy has become more than he ever could have hoped for.
One of the young boxers he trained has reached the staggering heights of the Commonwealth Games, and now the London Olympics.
Cheetham’s boxers are consistently successful in the City versus Country competitions, and have fought for South East Queensland and New South Wales titles.
The effort, time and commitment required to be not just a trainer, but also a mentor to these young boxers has not gone unnoticed by the community of Moree.
Last Thursday night Cheetham’s efforts were recognised at a surprise dinner, during which he was presented with a plaque and a large picture to hang in the boxing academy.
Moree Boxing Academy committee member Sara Bell gave a speech to acknowledge Cheetham’s role in the community.
“You and Chalky are the pride of our town. You have Moree’s youth at heart and in sharing your love of boxing you are placing them in good stead, assisting them in developing life skills, self confidence, work ethic, discipline and sportsmanship,” Mrs Bell said.
“We are here tonight to acknowledge the hard work and expert knowledge that has been foundation to realising the Olympic dreams of Cameron Hammond.”
Cheetham said he had no idea the surprise dinner was going to take place, and was honoured to receive such recognition.
“We have a tremendous academy and I have a great assistant coach in Chalky. The academy has achieved so much in a short time - highlighted by Cameron Hammond reaching the Commonwealth and Olympic Games,” Cheetham said.
“It’s been overwhelming. We’ve created a monster really; the kids just keep coming!”
Cheetham extended thanks to all those involved in supporting the academy, saying it would not have been possible without them.
“I’d especially like to thank my beautiful family because they have had to make sacrifices for me to do what I do.”
Matt Newman and his family donated a large picture of Rice and Cheetham to hang in the academy hall.
He said it was a small token of the community’s appreciation for all Cheetham had done.
“These kids will remember Danny for the rest of their lives. He showed them a new way, that there is a future for them and that they can achieve their goals if they work hard,” he said.