Boxers land a blow for struggling youngsters
Boxer Luke Sharp holds the pads for Zoey Dessent during a boxing demonstration at Cafe Lia. Pic: Ben Crabtree/WA News

Luke Sharp knows better than to turn the other cheek. He would probably end up copping a left hook if he didn't.

And John Squillace's idea of fighting the good fight usually sees the other guy flat on his back.

But the two Perth boxers and a few of their stablemates are still proving a big hit at the Kelmscott Church of Christ.

The fighters, from Hassans Boxing Gym in Gosnells, have been taking time out from preparing for their bouts on June 20 to give a helping hand at a soup kitchen based at the church hall.

As well as serving food to 400 or so people who go for a free two-course meal provided by Café Lia every Tuesday, they are being hailed as an inspiration to the under-privileged youngsters there.

"For a lot of these little kids whose experience of life can be fairly negative, they just absolutely love it when the boxers come in," Café Lia community engagement co-ordinator Donna Smith said.

Boxer John Squillace helps out at Cafe Lia. Pic supplied

"They bring little gifts for the kids and show them all about fitness.

"(They have) set up a sparring session, and another time they just had the pads. And I tell you, the echo of those pads ... it really takes some getting used to.

"But this boxing group are so generous and so amazing, we've sort of 'adopted' them.

"Their visits are giving the kids a window into an alternative future. It really gives them something positive to look at. They are changing the mindset of our kids."

Dave Hassan, head trainer at the gym, said the fighters were keen to help the local community.

"When they first went there they thought it was a bit weird, but they just love having the boxers there and my boxers love doing it now.

Luke Sharp holds the pads for a youngster at Cafe Lia. Pic: Ben Crabtree/WA News

"It's 2k's from where I live and we didn't know it was there.

"What it does for the boxers is it keeps them grounded. They're young men now and it shows them where they're from, these people are from the same area. It also shows them that they in a privileged position."

Café Lia began almost five years ago and Donna has been on the staff since last July. She says the amount of people in need of help has increased steadily even in that short time.

"It's getting tougher and tougher to live on $34 a day," she said.

"So while we do the meal program and can give away free bread and veggies, Café Lia is so much more. It's about creating community, one that steps up. Because the greatest thing that we would love is not having to be here."

Boxing may be known as the hardest game, but sometimes even the fighters find someone doing it that little bit tougher.

Boxers Sam Hogan and Luke Sharp on the pads. Pic: Ben Crabtree./WA News

The West Australian

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