Priest steps into ring for work of love
by Natalie Davison
When Dulwich Hill’s Reverend David Smith was asked fight for funding to save a vital youth program, he took the challenge literally.
The boxing padre stepped into the ring in a campaign to raise funds to keep open the Holy Trinity Anglican Church’s Youth Fitness Centre.
But now the plucky priest, who turned professional last year, is hanging up his gloves, concentrating on helping young people fight their demons of drug and alcohol addiction.
While Rev Smith, 34, has taken some beatings in his fundraising efforts, his luck seems about to change. On Sunday, Rev Smith will be named Marrickville’s Citizen of the Year for his work with young people.
Although Rev Smith said he knew nothing of his nomination for the Marrickville Council award, he welcomed the acknowledgement.
“It was a surprise but this is not an individual thing. I see it as a real team effort” Rev Smith said
“It is a real work of love. Hopefully this will give us some credibility to get more funding to set up some of the programs we are trying to develop.”
Rev Smith, with his family’s support, has expanded the centre’s facilities to not only cater for the 100 teenagers who flock to it each day but also to give a healthy new focus to boys with addictions and other problems.
He also works with young people with manic depression and Attention Deficit Disorder.
He has developed the Get Off Your Gear and Get in the Ring program to encourage youth to stop taking drugs and take up boxing.
“When I was young I came from the wrong side of the track so I can relate to these kids,” he said.
“I was lucky I got converted and was able to get away from things.”
The centre has boxing, martial arts and kickboxing facilities, with Rev Smith and volunteers as trainers.
“Some of these guys have a lot of potential. They could be professional boxers,” he said.
Rev Smith can no longer fight professionally because of age limits on the NSW fighting circuit and hopes some of his up-and coming charges can take over his fight for funding to help keep the centre open.