Fallen boxer's stepson and fiancee re-enter the ring in his honour

Michelle Burke and her son Dayton are set to reenter the ring in Neville Knight's memory.

Michelle Burke and her son Dayton are set to reenter the ring in Neville Knight's memory.

Fighting in a Golden Gloves boxing match was not the plan for a typical wedding day. But, after Michelle Burke's fiance died in a boxing ring four weeks before their wedding, the family is fighting back against grief.   

Dayton Burke's idol Muhammad Ali once said, "don't count the days, make the days count" and he's living that motto.

It has been 26 days since the 10-year-old's stepfather, Neville Knight, died in the ring at a charity boxing match in Hamilton, but the 10-year-old is determined to continue making the most of his future and is fighting in Taupo's Golden Gloves event this weekend.

Neville Knight collapsed and died during a charity boxing match in Hamilton.

Neville Knight collapsed and died during a charity boxing match in Hamilton.

"I just thought I wanted to do it to honour Nev," he said. 

Boxer dies in corporate fight at Te Rapa Racecourse
Hamilton boxing gym is recovering after the tragic death of one of their own
After Neville Knight's death, are corporate fight clubs just too dangerous?
Don't count out charity boxing - Fight for Christchurch boxer Sam

"I think it will be a good thing to do for him as he helped me train."

Dion McNabney, owner/operator of Nabby's Boxing and Fitness Gym where Neville Knight trained, holds a pair of boxing ...

Dion McNabney, owner/operator of Nabby's Boxing and Fitness Gym where Neville Knight trained, holds a pair of boxing gloves that were signed in tribute to Knight.

Dayton started boxing when he was eight years old and his skill soon impressed his coaches.

"I've had six fights," he said. 

"I lost my first one but won all the rest."

Dayton was originally unable to attend this weekend's event as that was when his mother's wedding to Nev was to take place.

Ad Feedback

The plan was for 87 guests to attend The Red Barn venue and witness Michelle's big day. Nev would have been dressed-to-impress and eager to see his bride. He was to be flanked by his two sons, while Michelle's three were to form her bridal party. 

But that plan came to a sudden and unexpected end on September 24 when Neville collapsed in the ring in front of Michelle.

"I was standing a few metres away from ringside and went straight over to him," she said.

"He hadn't actually received any hits yet.

"He just kind of started walking backwards to the ropes and slowly slipped down."

Working as a live line mechanic for Northpower, Michelle resorted to her on-the-job CPR training.

"I remember just saying 'nobody was to stop CPR until the paramedics physically took over. I must have said that about five times.

"St John arrived and worked on him for a while. But it had been too long."

Neville had been a picture of health having played rugby league for many years and still took part in masters.

His background in the army gave him a strong physical discipline and a professional mannerism that made him respected in his work at Northpower.

"What drew me to him was, well, he was very handsome, and he had a very caring nature," Michelle said.

"He was always looking after his team. He was also a bit of a prankster and there are so many stories about him pulling jokes."

About 10 months into their relationship, Neville popped the question.

"He was propping himself up on a wall after a few drinks and said, 'Woman. I f***ing love you. Marry me'."

"I told him to ask me again when he was sober. 

"The next morning as soon as he opened his eyes he said, 'So, you going to marry me?'

"I said 'you are probably still a little drunk but I will'. For some reason I wanted a long engagement. I regret that now."

Michelle said Neville was a fantastic partner and very loving to his, and her, children.

"He was so proud of the things his children were doing," Michelle said.

Nev's love spread to Michelle's three, too. He would encourage and help Dayton train and prepare for fights and soon Michelle, Dayton and Nev were all keen boxers. 

Michelle quit boxing after Neville's death, but Dayton was determined to get back in the ring and continue the sport Nev encouraged him to do. 

At one of Dayton's training sessions for Golden Gloves Michelle regained her inspiration.

"I was sitting there watching Dayton train and this boy sat down next to me, jabbed me playfully in the leg.

"I said, what was that for? He said, why did you quit?

"Then I realised that all I had done by quitting boxing was teach the kids, the ones at the gym and my own, that when things are too hard you just quit and walk away.

"I went back to training the next day."

Michelle was also able to secure a spot in the Golden Gloves event, her planned wedding day. It will be the first time stepping back into a proper boxing ring since she attempted to save her fiance's life. 

"It will be good to be in Taupo," she said. 

"I'm sure it will be a hectic schedule, but I will find some time to spent with my Nev.

"Things have been hard since Nev passed but you have to keep going."

 - Stuff


Ad Feedback
special offers

King tide on Tamaki Drive

Tamaki Drive clings to the east Auckland coastline and could be flooded by tonight's king tide.

Motorists were warned of flooding on Auckland's Tamaki Drive during a king tide on Saturday evening.

Major power cut in west Auckland

1130 homes in west Auckland are without electricity due to a tree falling on power lines.

A tree falling on power lines left more than 1000 homes without electricity in west Auckland.

Impaled teen had punctured stomach

The fire service gave first aid to a man with critical injuries sustained trying to climb a fence in south Auckland.

The teenager injured himself while trying to scale a fence at the Manukau Institute of Technology.

$1m taken from mum's accounts

Stephen Jackson sold his mother's home while she was writing a will sharing it equally between her children, the High ...

Auckland man sold his parents' house and took hundreds of thousands from his ailing mother's bank account.


Finding a home for stories

Brucey Downs, 27, is one of the many Kiwis affected by homelessness.

"Being homeless is a roller coaster that goes up and down, it's complicated that way."

Shot theory no joke

Jim Morton lost his left eye, on the right of this photo as you look at it, in a shooting incident. A Fish and Game ...

All hunters should start wearing safety glasses, says man who claims shot can ricochet off of ducks.

A market for drugs

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne's dramatically changed his views on drug policy over the past eight years.

Government minister says legalisation of cannabis is the 'logical way forward'.

Champion of science

Dave Hansford wrote a book about the pest poison 1080 because "someone had to".

"A great deal of anti-1080 sentiment isn't about 1080," says author.


How's this for a bachelor pad?

The Carlton Butchery penthouse by MAP Architects 26.5.17

Luxurious Christchurch 'bachelor pad' in The Carlton Butchery wins major award.

Consent $63 per year

Blair Colligan plans to bottle water alongside the Waimangaroa River in Buller.

There may soon be signs of life in a dormant, West Coast town: a water bottling plant.

Alleged grope on flight

Police arrested a man at Christchurch Airport after the alleged incident. (FIle photo)

Passenger arrested after allegedly assaulting a woman on Jetstar flight.

Man killed in crash

The cause of the crash is not yet known.

A 26-year-old man is dead and another seriously injured after crashing into a house in Christchurch.


Rubber duckies on the loose

Hundreds of rubber ducks are dumped into the water.

Hamilton's lake meets a different type of bird life.

Suspicious blaze at caryard

The Fire Service received a call about the blaze at 3.10pm. Two crews from Waipa attended the scene, plus two trucks ...

At least one person has suffered burns in the Te Awamutu blaze.

Canoe racing home

Canoe Racing CEO Mark Weatherall

Canoe racing high performance athletes will transition to their new headquarters in Cambridge starting pre-Christmas.

Sevens skeptics won't quit

Public reaction to the news that the Sevens are moving to Hamilton has been largely positive. But not everybody's cheering.

Official assurances only go so far with twitchy ratepayers haunted by Hamilton's V8 debacle.


Sale from beyond the grave

The Tariki Hall committee members want to sell the hall and give the proceeds to charity because the income doesn't meet ...

To sell this rural hall, permission was needed from the original trustees - who have long been dead.

Winery trial to come

In times past Tim Finn, Bic Runga, Dave Dobbyn  performed at the Sentry Hill Winery.

The liquidation saga of Sentry Hill Winery is heading to trial.

Goons make it two

Suburban Goons were winners of the best band in the Taranaki regional final of Smokefreerockquest for the second time ...

They won last year and now the Suburban Goons have done it again.

Sacrificing your self 

A longing for relationships is hard wired into our DNA.

OPINION: To be in community we need to sacrifice some measure of individual right and freedom.


Lifetime of work destroyed

John Bramley, with his dog Moose, lost 50 years worth of woodturning work and equipment in a shed fire at his Palmerston ...

It was a shed holding half a century of his life. It was gone in minutes.

Three car pile-up

Police were called to a minor car crash at George St on Saturday.

A person is in hospital after three-car pile-up at a busy Palmerston North street.

Shot theory no joke

Jim Morton lost his left eye, on the right of this photo as you look at it, in a shooting incident. A Fish and Game ...

All hunters should start wearing safety glasses, says man who claims shot can ricochet off of ducks.

Fed up in Foxton

Flooding on Wednesday morning, at the Blue Bell motel on SH1 in Foxton.

Frustrated residents say Foxton's stormwater system can't cope, after repeated floods.


Protesting for right to protest

Lewis Staton aka Hone Ma Heke at the protest at the 1903 Square during Saturday's protest, having recently been released ...

Former prime minister calls on the city council to with withdraw a draft bylaw that would require a permit to protest.

Fatal crash near Mot

Motueka Volunteer Fire Brigade volunteers divert traffic on the Coastal Highway after a fatal car crash.

A person has died and another is seriously injured in a two-vehicle crash near Motueka.

What now for Tom?

Thomas Lay is being evicted from  Bridge Street Backpackers and is looking for a new place to live.

Thomas Lay is worried. A Nelson backpackers - his home of seven years - has been forced to sell up.

'Cowboy poachers' under spotlight

Bryce Buckland saw six of the runaway deer at Marsden Valley Cemetery last month. Three men face prosecution after ...

Three men who shot at deer from a car in a residential area could face hefty charges.


'Gentle giant' mourned after rugby death video

Bevan Moody died after suffering a cardiac arrest while playing for Waitohi last weekend.

Bevan Moody, who died after suffering a cardiac arrest while playing for Waitohi, remembered as a young family man with a quick wit.

Oldest Facebooker?

Jean Leslie, 99, uses Facebook to connect with relatives like her granddaughter Melissa Tripe.

Even with just 62 'friends', this 99-year-old still gets fed up with some of the stuff other people 'like'.

'Armed and dangerous' man sought

Michael John Hughes, 36, is considered armed and dangerous.

Police looking for a man believed to be armed and dangerous after he allegedly committed offences across the South Island.

The recycle of life

The majority of recycled glass in Marlborough stays in New Zealand.

From kerbside to dockside; the journey of Marlborough's recycling.

South Canterbury

Rural location no barrier video

Kate Ivey juggles her expanding business with caring for her three children and helping run the family farm.

Mother of three says living in the 'middle of nowhere' is no barrier to business success.

'Out of character'

Timaru police are looking for 53-year-old Murray Wall, missing since Thursday.

The disappearance of a Timaru man is "completely out of character", police say.

Guilty of manslaughter

Timaru Court.

Kooly Managki Te Tomo found guilty of the manslaughter of Arran Gairns.

Accommodation boost

Finance Minister Steven Joyce announced his first Budget on Thursday.

The Government has recognised parts of SC have become more expensive.


Your chance to cast a vote

Cyclist Eddie Dawkins.

Your chance to have your say for the 2016/2017 Southland Sports Awards.

Busman's holiday gets beached video

Jeff Leeden got his 1964 VAL Bedford bus, Chubby Cheeks, stuck in the sand on Oreti Beach.

Aussies thought they'd take their housebus for a jaunt on the sands. This was nearly its final stop.

Health professionals unhappy

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists Ian Powell.

A medical union has accused the Government of "continued neglect" with its annual health budget announcement on Thursday.

Council's 'Gypsy Day' u-turn

Cows are moved, near Rakaia.

It's deemed too offensive so a new name for sharemilkers moving cows to farms is needed.

Ad Feedback