The Oamaru Boxing Club has come along way since its inception in a small garage on Frome St in September 2012, and coach Joe Cropley has been the catalyst for its progression.
Following an undistinguished career in the ring, Cropley’s passion is teaching and the Employment Plus tutor founded the club after youngsters showed an interest in the sweet science.
“It was because I work with the youth. I had about half a dozen youth that wanted to do something, so I thought I would start the club up for them,” he said.
“It gives them the fitness and discipline, takes them off the streets and it builds a sense of belonging.”
Zac Korkou, Haimona Huria and Joe’s son, Tain, have been part of the club since its inception and Cropley recalled the trio’s involvement and progression over the last two years positively.
“Since we started, I’ve had three guys that have been there since day one, that’s Zac, Haimona and my son, Tain, and seeing their improvements has been enjoyable,” he said.
Since its modest beginnings, the club has moved on to Eden St and Cropley intends to continue to grow all aspects of what has become an integral part of his and his fighters’ lives.
“At this stage, we’re looking at setting up the gym a bit better, get new flooring and new equipment and things like that,” he said.
“We need to elect a new committee and we need people that know what they’re doing with admin.
“The minute we set up that properly and incorporate the club properly, then I can start applying for decent funding.”
Korkou, a hard-hitting light welterweight, recently competed at the New Zealand National Boxing Championships in Queenstown and Cropley, as always, stood in the 25-year-old’s corner.
Korkou lost out in the second round via technical knockout in his semi-final bout against Commonwealth Games competitor Leroy Hindley.
Hindley was knocked out by Richie Hadlow in the final, a fighter Korkou 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.
“Zac had a pretty impressive novice record of 7-0, 3 KOs and 2 TKOs, Haimona the same. He’s had three wins in his novice record and both won titles at novice grade which is pretty impressive for a gym that’s just started,” he said.
“I’ve had seven registered boxers so far that have all competed. It’s been really good seeing the commitment that the three original guys have had from the start and now I’ve got a lot of new people coming in and now those guys have become the role models in the club.”
Cropley now intends to improve his coaching qualifications and organise more bouts for star pupil, Korkou, before taking more fighters back to the national championships next year.
“Now we’ve been to a national champs, we’re hoping to get more ring time experience. We’re hoping to increase his (Zac Korkou) ring time and get as many fights as possible and I’m hoping to take at least three or four to next year’s nationals,” he said.
Following the national event, at which the Otago fighters proved most successful overall, Cropley reflected positively on the experience and meeting former heavyweight David Tua.
“Watching other trainers and the Commonwealth guys so I can pass that on to our guys was good. We just took it as an opportunity to gain experience in and out of the ring,” he said.
“It was an amazing experience to meet him (David Tua), really approachable, he sat right next to me during lunch which buzzed me out a bit but we just talked about his life and his career. It was really amazing.”
By JAMES FORD
PHOTO: SUPPLIED – Oamaru Boxing Club Waitaki Warriors coach Joseph Cropley and former Heavyweight David Tua at the New Zealand National Boxing Championships in Queenstown last week.