Billy Graham returned to his old territory recently to open his boxing acadamy. Billy Graham, a pupil of the late Dick Dunn, master mentor, won four New Zealand titles at light welterweight, plus an Australasian title.
Billy didn't turn pro but in the late 60's Bob Jones wrote the following about young Billy. "Wellington boxing fans should mark down young Billy Graham in the back of their minds as a future professional champion who will fill their Town Hall, for the Hutt Valley boxer is showing all the signs of following in the footsteps of two post-war greats in Barry Brown and Manoel Santos. At 18, Billy Graham who in the nick of time for the W.B.A, who currently sadly lacking a local hero, is an amateur prospect with all the necessary qualifications to make the grade in the professional ring after perhaps another year in the amateurs."
I recently attended the opening of Billy's new Academy in Naenae, and speaking to Bill next day he had signed on 58 new members on the first day of opening. That is the popularity of Billy in the Hutt Valley. It is the 14th gym in the Hutt and Wellington area, which stretches up to the Wairarapa border. Pride of place is the ring which was used in the World Heavyweight fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Bugner in Malaysia.
The gym was previously used by the Salvation Army as a Church Hall and Bill has also purchased the Church next door.
Attending the opening were many former boxers including Wally Coe, Chris Kenny, Alan Scaife, Grant Scaife, Mat Sproule, Tommy Dunn, The Plowman Brothers, Sinbad Iva, Graham Smith,and countless others.
The livewire Billy Graham will continue his motivational speaking engagements around the world and he has plenty of helpers to keep the gym going in his absence. This has been Bill's dream for many years and he made a promise to Dick Dunn many years ago that he would one day open a gym in his old stamping ground. Dick's wife Chum was their to witness the gym opening and was highly pleased with Billy's efforts.
Shots from the opening of Naenae Boxing Academy
Mat Sproule and Alan Scaife
Mrs Chum Dunn
Chris Kenny, Billy Graham and Wally Coe
Dave Cameron and Keith Quinn