Proud grandparents Thomas and Jenny Nyika watched their grandson David win a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games with a unanimous points decision over Kennedy St Pierre of Mauritius in the men’s light heavyweight boxing final in Glasgow yesterday morning.
St Pierre was the busier of the two fighters but his punches rarely found their target as Nyika’s lightning reactions, impressive footwork and ferocious counter punches took him to victory in the three-round bout.
The Nyikas, who have lived in Oamaru since 1977, watched the match at a friend’s house and were on the edge of their seats as the 18-year-old battled on to win New Zealand’s first boxing gold since 1990, when Michael Kenny won the super heavyweight division in Auckland.
“His dad says he doesn’t like getting hit. That’s probably why he’s so fast,” said Mrs Nyika.
“We were on the edge of our seat. We felt nervous; we didn’t want him to get hurt.”
Nyika’s opponent scored a Technical Knock Out over Welshman Nathan Thorley in the semi-finals and Mr Nyika said he was urging his grandson to up the intensity after the first round.
“The fellow from Mauritius, St Pierre, got to the final by knocking the Welsh chap out in the semi-final so we were worried for David but he (St Pierre) was tiring out in the first round,” he said.
“We were wishing him to win, but when the match was going, especially after the first round, we were saying he should go up to the next gear, and he did.”
David’s father, Simon, contacted the Nyikas after the match and will be returning to New Zealand with the Hamilton-based fighter just in time for his 19th birthday on Thursday.
Mrs Nyika has congratulated David via Facebook and said seeing her grandson on the podium “didn’t seem real at first”.
“He (David’s father) rang us on the telephone and was really happy,” she said.
“We’ll say we are proud of him when we speak to him and that we knew he could do it.”
New Zealand’s newest gold medallist will have plenty of opportunities in the near future but his grandparents hope he chooses to pursue whatever makes him happy.
“We saw an interview recently that said the next thing would be the Olympics and then maybe professional. He was going to go to university but then took a gap year.
“We just hope he does whatever makes him happy,” said Jenny Nyika.
By JAMES FORD
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES – David Nyika (blue) and Kennedy St Pierre of Mauritius compete in the Men’s Light Heavy (81kg) Final Bout.