The Oamaru Boxing Club Waitaki Warriors has come a long way since its inception in a small garage on Frome St in September 2012 and is continuing to progress at a rapid rate, with an influx of keen boxers intent on learning the sweet science.
Last year saw Joe Cropley’s fighters take on some of the country’s finest.
Zac Korkou, a hard-hitting light welterweight, competed at the New Zealand National Boxing Championships in Queenstown and Cropley, as always, stood in the 25-year-old’s corner.
Korkou lost in the second round via technical knockout in his semifinal bout against Commonwealth Games competitor Leroy Hindley.
Hindley was knocked out by Richie Hadlow in the final, a fighter Korkou had lost to via split decision one month prior.
Cropley’s fighters have a habit of developing quickly, notching impressive novice records before testing much more accomplished opponents, a trend the trainer intends to continue with the next generation of local fighters.
The junior boxers will begin training next week after returning from the school holiday break and trainer Cropley is hoping to expand sessions to include two more groups – an all-women class and children from 9 to 12 years old.
“This is in the pipeline as I have been approached by many people who wish to train or who have children wanting to learn boxing,” said Cropley.
Since its modest beginnings, the club has moved on to Eden St and Cropley is passionate about growing all aspects of what has become an integral part of his and his fighters’ lives.
This year has already seen new gear donated and services offered as fitness instructor Jamie Rhodes will now guide the fighters with pre-season conditioning and fitness training.
“I am pleased that people in our town are starting to recognise that the club is here to stay and is beneficial to many different people and backgrounds,” Cropley said.
“I credit the current growth to my core of fighters and their families for inviting others to come and train with us.”
With all six registered fighters preparing for tournaments in March, Cropley said the boxers in his stable would continue to work hard over the coming months.
“My only hurdle is trying to find the time to accommodate everyone, but ultimately my commitment is to the fighters as they are the ones who represent Oamaru around the country.”
Cropley is now looking to incorporate the club and is on the hunt for anyone interested in becoming involved at an administrative level.
“Due to the growing interest in our sport, there is room for expansion,” he said.
“Funding and sponsorship will play a big part in helping to grow the club. Boxing is actually a great vehicle to promote our awesome town as we will be travelling nation wide wearing Oamaru with pride.
“I am very excited for the upcoming year and hopefully making some waves in the boxing circuit,” he said.
“We also have a facebook page Oamaru Boxing Waitaki Warriors where people can follow our progress and news throughout the year. I can also be contacted on (021) 231-9150 at any time.”
If the Oamaru Club’s young history is anything to go by, 2015 will be an exciting year for them with Cropley at the helm.
By James Ford
PHOTO: Joe Cropley