Milligans Portside Punch charity boxing: The contenders

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Let’s get ready to rumble. The 24 contenders for the Milligans Portside Punch charity boxing event are training their socks off. Before the big night on June 30, Hayden Meikle finds about more about some of these courageous people. Photos are by Rachel Wybrow.

Melissa Smith
Age: 32.
Occupation: Work at Brydone Wholefoods, mum to Louie (3) and Mason (1), wife to Craig.
Most admired boxer: Sonny Bill Williams.
Sporting background: Sport has always been a huge part of my life. During my school years, I represented North Otago in athletics, basketball, rugby and netball. I went on to represent Otago (U21 and NPC B) and Southland (NPC B) in netball. And am still playing netball for mighty Maheno.
Why I’m doing it: This is very much a challenge for me, and like nothing I have done before. Usually you gravitate towards a sport because you are good at it. This is so different because we are all new to boxing, so it’s very much a level playing field (or ring). Everyone has their own strengths and style. For such a good cause, how could you say no? It’s an amazing event and I have huge respect to all those doing a power of work behind the scenes to make it happen.

Katrina Holywell
Age: 40.
Occupation: Financial officer at Observatory Retirement Village, wife to Glen, mother to Brodie (10) and Sophie (5).
Most admired boxer: After completing the boxing training, I admire all boxers for their ability to think on their feet, defend themselves, stay on their toes and have the courage to walk in the ring knowing that they will take some punches.
Sporting background: Cheerleader and hockey player at high school and then a bit of gym over the years. I finally got over that guilt feeling to take time out as a mum to lose the baby weight and get fit. Now our family has a real fitness attitude, which I am enjoying.
Why I’m doing it: I would never have volunteered to go in a boxing ring but this is a fantastic cause as everyone has been affected in some way by cancer. With brilliant trainers and all contenders putting in a lot of sweat and passion, this has been an enjoyable experience leading up to the big event.

Noreen O’Neill
Age: 48.
Occupation: Fulltime mum to Jack (9), Molly (6) and 500 cows.
Most admired boxer: Katie Taylor.
Sporting background: Volleyball and basketball, fun runs and multisport, and referee to a 9-year-old boy and 6-year-old girl.
Why I’m doing it: To challenge and push myself outside my comfort zone with something I have never done before. This event is close to my heart as I have lost a number of relatives to cancer through the years, so am delighted to be able to contribute to a great cause. And how can you possibly say no to Wayne?

 

Ivan Docherty (Doc)
Age: 47.
Occupation: Plant manager at Alliance Pukeuri, father to Logan (17) and Anthony (14).
Most admired boxer:Muhammad Ali.
Sporting background: Hockey was my chosen sport through my schooling years, representing the North Otago senior team for several years, but my real passion was rowing. I obtained six national podium finishes, including a national title, and I gained New Zealand selection in the mid-1990s. I’m now fortunate to be able to watch my son, Logan, excel at rowing on the club and secondary school scene.
Why I’m doing it: Because it’s a great fundraiser for three worthwhile charities, it’s an opportunity to challenge myself outside my comfort zone, and a real bonus has been meeting a great bunch of like-minded people doing this challenge.

Ricky Hutchinson (Skip)
Age: 38.
Occupation: Farmer, husband to Mel, father to Olivia and Ryley.
Most admired boxer: Sugar Ray Robinson.
Sporting background: Played rugby for Old Boys, North Otago B and Valley. Played touch in Otago 30s for two years, and have continued to play and support the local touch scene. I have completed the Challenge Wanaka half seven times in a team, and have done runs and various events around the South Island. I really get a kick out of coaching now, seeing the younger players come through in hockey, touch and rugby.
Why I’m doing it: Mainly for fitness and the challenge. When you think you’ve hit your peak, you still have more in the tank. Mahatma Gandhi summed it up: “Strength does not come from winning; your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”

Hayden Williams
Age: 42.
Occupation: Farmer.
Most admired boxer: It’s hard to go past Muhammad Ali, the total boxer with great entertainment value.
Sporting background: Played league for West Coast, and rugby for Burnside and Methven. Have done the Coast to Coast, Challenge Wanaka and a few marathons.
Why I’m doing it: Memories, not dreams. So I have some pictures around the house when my three beautiful daughters start dating. I’ve never been much of a fighter so it’s great to have the opportunity to get it out of my system.

Nick Raymond

Age: 32.

Occupation: Head chef at Riverstone Kitchen, dad to Archie (6).

Most admired boxer: Joseph Parker.

Sporting back ground: I’ve always been an active person and have done a bit of everything – from club rugby to hunting, indoor football, snowboarding and dirt bike riding. I’ve really enjoyed the new challenge of boxing and learning all that goes into it.

Why I’m doing it: I had a family member looked after by hospice and have seen the amazing job they do. I would like to help by doing my little bit and help those people that have travelled a harder path than I have. I also want to show my son how doing something small can have a positive impact on so many people.

 

Steve Collett

Age: 39.

Occupation: Farmer, husband to Mary-Jane, father to Emma (12), Amelia (11), Holly (9) and Oscar (7).

Most admired boxer: Hayden “The Haymaker” Williams.

Sporting background: Played rugby for a few years, and I like to get out on the bike to keep semi-fit. Did the Coast to Coast in 2017, which I really enjoyed, and will do again one day when my wife is willing to be a widow again for a few months.

Why I’m doing it: Because I heard Mark “Bambi” Rawson was getting in the ring. Also, I have three daughters, so I thought it would look good hanging on the wall – their future boyfriends will have something to remind them, if they misbehave. On a serious note, my wife’s mother passed away with cancer, and other family members have or are dealing with it. So six minutes of pain is not much in the journey of life.