Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
Born into a boxing family, Ashley Cupitt has harboured a passion for the sport his whole life and discovered his true calling in coaching and mentoring.
1965 – 1968
Ashley’s Father, Don “Brahma” Cupitt, was a Welterweight Amateur Boxing Champion and taught his children boxing.
Ashley started Coaching his friends and members of the public in his Dad’s shed.
1984 – 1993
Atherton Boxing Club.
Trainer Kenny Dunn started the club around 1975 in the Old Picture Theatre in Tolga, then they moved to a hall at the Atherton High School.
Kenny moved to Brisbane, so Trainer Sam Zammataro took over while he was a teacher at Atherton State High School, the club moved to a ring under his two storey house, training two days a week. Sam was transferred to another school.
The club then moved to the Atherton Fitness Hall, behind Merrilands Hall. The club then closed for two years.
Training recommenced with Trainer Neville Brown in a shed in Kairi.
Then continued on in the Lutheran Church Hall with Trainers Darryl Johnston and Ashley Cupitt. With increasing members attending training, the club had to move to a larger venue at the Old Atherton Primary School when the school moved premises in 1985.
In 1993, due to the high Atherton Shire Council rent, Ashley had to close the club and moved it to the Yungaburra Primary School.
The many moves were due to trying to find better venues and wooden floors, as well as increasing numbers of participants.
The Atherton Boxing Club had many successes and Boxers and was run purely by Volunteers.
1990 – 1995
Lotus Glen Correctional Centre Boxing Club.
Ashley volunteered to Coach Boxing at Lotus Glen Correctional Centre. He trained the inmates in Boxing and Self Defence, as well as taking the Team and Guards to Tournaments. Organised in-house professional boxing tournaments.
The program helped with the rehabilitation of the inmates. After only a few months, the Management said “Not sure what you have been doing, but it has brought down the incidents and problems in the jail.”
The program was ceased when some politicians and members of the public perceived that this training would make the inmates violent, when the opposite was actually the case – it calmed them down.
1994 – 1999
Boxing in Yungaburra.
Ashley moved the Atherton Boxing Club to Yungaburra State School for one year, he noticed that skipping on the concrete floor caused shin splits, lower back pain and then started to cause pain in knee and ankle joints.
Boxing then moved to Yungaburra Scout Hall in 1995 as it had a nice wooden floor. No boys wanted to compete during this time and girls weren’t allowed to compete until the year 2000. There was still a good mixture of genders and ages that attended.
The Scout Hall was sold to a private buyer in 1999. So Ashley decided to ‘retire’ from Boxing.
2000 – 2002
Trained his children Gordon and Raymond, along with some of their friends at his home.
2003 – 2017
Yungaburra Boxing Gym/Club.
Reopened in 2003 by the request of the Eacham Shire Mayor and Police in the Memorial Hall, Yungaburra, due to the surge of youth crime in the area. The rent was free as the Mayor realised that it was a valuable community service that kept kids off the streets and taught them valuable life lessons, including respect for themselves and others. With his own money and Council’s permission, Ashley built the ‘cage area’ downstairs for the ring.
Over the years, Ashley has run training sessions at Atherton and Malanda State High Schools. Some other schools, including: Mount St Bernard’s, Ravenshoe State School and School for Field Studies have brought bus loads down for training sessions.
In 2014, the gym and other community groups were shut down by the Tablelands Regional Council, until they could discern whether those groups were commercial businesses and how much rent should be charged. The gym reopened after 3 months and all groups had to pay a rental charge and public liability insurance- a lot of volunteer groups couldn’t afford the fees and folded, or moved out of Council facilities.
The gym managed to keep going by raising the prices from a gold coin donation to $6 kids, $10 adults and receiving donations from local businesses and Member of Parliament Shane Knuth. The price rise caused a massive drop in numbers from 6,000 people per year to 1,000 people per year.
In 2017, Children’s Activity Groups Association (CAGA), also known as Circus Arts North, took over the lease from Council. The gym spent five and a half months trying to negotiate the contract, which went up to version number nine. Finding futility in negotiations, the gym paid CAGA what rent was owed (minus the mirror they broke and agreed to pay for) and decided to move out of the Memorial Hall and into the ‘cage area’, training only 2 Boxers before going to the National Titles in Melbourne. Whilst in Melbourne, the gym received a new demand from CAGA for rent in arrears payment, for an area that was previously free. Due to all this, the gym was closed in November 2017.
2018 – Present
Ashley Cupitt Boxing Academy.
The gym acquired an Australian Business Number and moved into the Atherton State High School. Due to moving towns again, it was generally agreed upon that a name change was essential and one that wasn’t related to a town name. Previously the name of the gym was based upon which town or place it was at the time. Some of you who have been around since the 1980’s may remember that there have been a few name changes over the years. This will hopefully be the last change as the gym can take the new name wherever it is.
During the closure, the gym had many offers from kind and generous farmers and community members, offering to build a shed on their land, rent free. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take anyone up on these offers, as where they were situated was too far from a town for children to be able to walk there. Atherton State High School is centrally situated in Atherton and is walking distance for many who live in Atherton, it is also a major town in the local area, where most people go to do their shopping.