Women's rights champion's fists do talking

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 08:20 16/10/2012
Michelle Starnes and Liz White
Michelle Starns, right, and Porirua boxer Liz White show off the medals they won in Auckland on Saturday night.

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Michelle Starns has made a habit of trumpeting women's rights with her pen and paper but the Wellingtonian has made arguably her most powerful statement with her fists.

The 29-year-old public servant won the New Zealand women's heavyweight title at her first attempt in Auckland on Saturday night.

The national title came two years after she challenged herself to turn six years of boxing fitness training into the real thing.

"I did a course [at Les Mills] about eight years ago and sort of went from zero to hero in that eight weeks and just loved it . . . so a couple of years ago I decided to give it a go for real," she said yesterday.

"I just wondered if I could do it and I wanted to challenge myself.

"I thought: I wonder if I can handle it? I was really fit and I wanted a goal to challenge myself.

"So I thought I'd just have one fight but as soon as I had, I was thinking: when's my next one?"

After a handful of bouts, she beat defending national champion Lisa Waimoana, of Manawatu, in the semifinals and then out-classed Hamilton's Caroline Daniels 35-11 in the final to win the elite women's 81kg title.

Starns' name has appeared frequently in The Dominion Post over the years but not for boxing.

"I've written a few [letters to the editor]," she confessed.

"The last one was about women's boxing, because someone was saying a few things I didn't agree with, but mostly they're about women's rights.

"It pushes a few buttons, so it's a bit of fun and the most powerful things you can say are with [written] words."

The newspaper's archives also reveal Starns was a scholar of some note at New Plymouth Girls' High School before shifting to the capital.

She was one of five Wellington boxers to win national crowns, with Liz White, Ryan Scaife, Dominic Roe Junior and Keegan Okane-Jones all picking up junior titles.

"I'd love to go for something like [Commonwealth Games] but the problem is by the time I get good enough I'll probably be too old," Starns said.

"I'm cool with that because I started two years ago for reasons I didn't have nine years ago.

"If I had the chance to go further, I'd take it but I'd think they'd want to pump money into younger boxers like Liz [White]."

Starns said a highlight of her first national championships was being able to mix with other women boxers.

"Because everyone loves boxing you didn't get that attitude from people assuming you are going to punch someone in the street or start a fight because you are pissed off.

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"I get a lot of strange reactions and people often feel they have to tell me their opinion of what I'm doing. I just take it on the chin.

"We'll see [where it goes]. This whole process has been quite crazy, so I have to take things as they come. I'll definitely keep going, and maybe defend it next year, but I'm going to bask in the glory for a little while I think."

Contact Toby Robson
Chief rugby writer
Email: toby.robson@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @TobyRobsonNZ

- The Dominion Post

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