Hungry for the win
Eric Finau has gone through "hell and back" to be named in the New Zealand Commonwealth Games boxing team.
The Wellsford Boxing fighter claimed the 2013 New Zealand amateur light heavyweight championship and was awarded the George Rush Memorial Belt for elite male light heavyweight.
He fought in China, Finland, Serbia, England and Australia in the lead up to qualify.
Winning three gold medals and beating Australia's No 1 light heavyweight was the easy part - Finau needed only two gold medals to qualify, his trainer Fili Maka says.
But in mid-May New Zealand Boxing dropped a bombshell, Maka says.
It wanted Finau to go down to the middleweight category and fight in the North Island Golden Gloves on June 1 to qualify.
"He had to lose 13kg in two weeks to fight in the Golden Gloves. Not only that, the hardest part was he had to beat everyone in the division and win gold," Maka says.
Finau lost the required weight and won all three fights, including beating the New Zealand middleweight champion.
But he almost gave up because of the "brutal" regime he had to undergo, Maka says.
"He had done so well since last year to achieve all he has and then all of a sudden he had to start again," he says.
Finau says he took the full 14 days to lose the weight.
"It was a hard time, a real tough two weeks, going through hell and back," he says.
He trained three times a day and didn't eat on some of them. On the days he did he was rationed to one meal a day and sometimes felt like giving up, he says.
"But Fili just pushed me and got me through it."
Two weeks of starving himself didn't affect Finau fighting at the Golden Gloves, and he actually found it easier in his new weight division.
He joins seven boxers named in May, including Fili's daughter Magan Maka. She is also a middleweight and will make history as women's boxing makes its Commonwealth Games debut.
"When I got the phone call I was stoked after all the hard work me and my team have done," Magan Maka says.
She won the Most Scientific Boxer award at the Golden Gloves.
The two boxers leave on July 5 for Sheffield, England, for a boxing camp with the New Zealand team before heading to Glasgow, Scotland, three days before the Commonwealth Games start on July 23.
- Rodney Times
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