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Kings of the ring . . . Barry Fox (left) and Gary Byrne, North Otago rugby team-mates turned boxing opponents, embrace after the inaugural Portside Punch in 2014. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Veterans of the last Portside Punch have shared their memories and offered some sage advice to this year’s participants.

Deputy mayor Melanie Tavendale said her experience of taking part in the charity boxing event in 2014 was “amazing”.

“Even though you are getting into the ring by yourself, it’s a team effort,” she said.

“It was a challenging experience for everyone but it was doing something good and for a good cause at the same time.”

The best advice she was able to pass on to this year’s charity boxers was “don’t get hit”.

“Just keep remembering what you’re doing it for. Everything is right out of your comfort zone – jumping in the ring, the size of the crowd – everything.

“It’s really important to support each other. The new crew sound like we were – we all grew together as a team.

“There’s a lot of support there – make sure you use it.”

While Cr Tavendale would not be getting back into the ring, she would be at fight night next Saturday as a spectator.

“Almost all the boxers from last time seem to be heading along. I’m going along to support them too but it will be good to be on the other side of the ring.”

Dairy farmer Richard Willans will also be attending this year’s Milligans Portside Punch next Saturday and has been providing an extra pair of hands during the training.

“I’ll never have to do it again,” he said.

“I’m reasonably happy being out of it but being able to be an extra set of hands this year.”

Mr Willans said he remembered the 2014 event fondly.

Richard Willans reacts after his fight at Portside Punch in 2014.

“It was a bloody huge night for Oamaru – well attended and supported – and it was great to raise so much money.

“Nerves were flying. It was awesome. It was great to be part of.”

In terms of advice, Mr Willans said the new boxers should “just bloody try to relax”.

“No words of caution. Just try and stay calm and enjoy it, and they will.”

North Otago rugby great Barry Fox has fond memories of the experience.

“It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had outside of team rugby, and the camaraderie between the boxers was great,” Mr Fox said.

He also said it was an experience he only wanted once.

“Really pleased I was able to be a part of it but once it was ticked off, it was done.

“There’s a bit of isolation when you are actually fighting. Actual boxers need to be really, really keen on it. They’ve got to have that fighting edge.”

Mr Fox, who got in the ring with former North Otago and Athletic prop Gary Byrne, said his best advice was to “just enjoy it”.

“The training takes a while but the night itself comes and goes pretty quickly. Make the most of it – just prepare and listen to the trainers.”

Mr Fox was also looking forward to attending the event.

“Last time we were in the heaviest category, so we weren’t on until about 11pm and didn’t get the opportunity to enjoy most of the night.”

The Milligans Portside Punch, to be held at the old Gillies Foundry building next Saturday, will have 10 fights.

Twelve were planned, but injuries have forced organisers to shorten the card.

The Oamaru Mail will outline all match-ups and the “tale of the tape” next week.