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.

Ricky Whyte
Age: 32.
Occupation: Painter.

Most admired boxer: David Tua.
Sporting background: North Otago Hawke Cup cricket team, captain of Albion senior cricket team.
Why I’m doing it: It’s certainly outside my comfort zone, but it’s for some awesome causes, so I thought I would challenge myself. Everybody knows someone or has lost someone that has been affected by cancer, so anything we can do to help is a major plus in my mind.

Nick Parsons
Age: 23.
Occupation: Insurance broker.

Most admired boxer: Joseph Parker.
Sporting background: Played rugby for St Kevin’s College. Represented North Otago in softball at secondary school.
Why I’m doing it: My nana passed away 10 years ago after a long battle with cancer, so it’s a unique opportunity to help out a couple of great organisations.

Dylan Winter
Age: 30.
Occupation: Carpenter.
Most admired boxer: Manny Pacquiao.
Sporting background: Former rugby player but now into my third year refereeing and loving the change. I also love playing cricket for Albion.
Why I’m doing it: To put to bed an old Globe rivalry! To be honest, I’d be an idiot to say no to an awesome opportunity for such great charities, though I’m definitely out of my comfort zone.

Emily Benschop
Age: 22
Occupation: Personal trainer.
Most admired boxer: Laila Ali.
Sporting background: I have ridden horses competitively in eventing and show-jumping since I was 13, and played netball throughout high school. I discovered my love for the gym and training in 2014 and have continued training ever since.
Why I’m doing it: It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, supporting some amazing charities. I spend my days encouraging people to push themselves out of their comfort zones, so I decided to lead by example.

Simon Vernon
Age: 28.
Occupation: Dairy livestock rep at PGG Wrightson.
Most admired boxers: Manny Pacquiao, Mike Tyson.
Sporting background: Rugby referee in North Otago. Have completed both Queenstown half-marathon and Motatapu, and looking at doing them both again.
Why I’m doing it: People with cancer face big challenges every day, and I have lost people close to me with cancer and have seen their battle on a daily basis. Getting into the boxing ring is a big challenge that I look forward to facing. I just hope the nerves don’t get in the way and it’s an entertaining night for all who attend.

Sullivan Martin
Age: 29.
Occupation: Tiler/bricklayer.
Most admired boxer:Jonathan Fisher-Hewitt.
Sporting background: Soccer has always been my first pick for a sport – I play for Meadowbank FC – but I’ll give just about any sport a go. I love to challenge myself.
Why I’m doing it: Fighting in a boxing ring had never crossed my mind. To be given the chance to take part in an event like this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s a great chance to give back to our community and to those in need of support.

Erana Smart
Age: 43.
Occupation: Self-employed barista, partner to BT and mother to Mequa (14).
Most admired boxer: Joseph Parker.
Sporting background: Basketball has always been my passion. My career highlight was getting selected for the 2001 New Zealand Divisional team at the Oceania tournament in Suva, Fiji.
Why I’m doing it: I always love a challenge in life, so I had to grab this opportunity with two gloves. Am I freaking out? Yes! But it’s awesome to be part of such a great community fundraiser. Big thanks to all the fitness clubs for volunteering their time to get us boxing fit for the next stage under the expertise of the dedicated coaches.

Grant Rhodes
Age: 43.
Occupation: Projects and assets officer at Waitaki District Council. Partner to Sarah Baker and dad to Olivia (18), Anna (15), Shaun (9) and Kayleigh (8).
Most admired boxer: David Tua.
Sporting background: Captained Westlake Boys’ High School under-80kg rugby teams to three Auckland championships. School representative in cross-country and road running. I completed several half-marathons throughout New Zealand and the Christchurch Marathon. I have always kept active, playing indoor and outdoor football, netball and squash, as well as other sports.
Why I’m doing it: My boss (Renee – who is the daughter of one trainer and sister of the other) candidly asked me a couple of months ago if I would participate in a charity boxing match. I have never been one to back down from a challenge, and my emotions for this worthy event are quickly growing.