Children spur boxer for title challenge
Joseph Parker has drawn inspiration for his upcoming title fight from a recent visit to Nelson.
Children he met on the Victory Boxing Programme and at Victory Primary School last month helped him to "stay focused and keep grounded" while in camp in America.
The rising star - who has just returned from training camp in Las Vegas - will challenge for the NZNBF national heavyweight title against heavy hitter ‘King' Afa Tatupu in Auckland on Thursday.
Parker said while the isolation of trainer Kevin Barry's base in Nevada limits distractions he is thankful for the messages of support which provide ongoing motivation.
The undefeated 21-year-old professional now counts Nelson as one of the centres of his support base.
"I didn't realise how much support I had down there and I just want to thank the people of Nelson," said Parker.
"It was [great] to see the kids that actually look up to me as a role model. Seeing that was a great experience for me, just being able to uplift and motivate them to train hard and fulfil [their] dreams.
"I took that back with me to Las Vegas and that helped me to stay focused and keep grounded."
Parker had one of his final New Zealand training sessions at the Victory Boxing Gym where he impressed several primary and intermediate-aged boxers on the programme that teaches life skills through boxing.
After leaving Nelson Parker flew out for Vegas the next day with a plan to "hit the ground running" for one final four week training stint.
"That's exactly what we did, we arrived at 9.30-10 at night and started running at 5 in the morning," said Parker who said he cherished the Victory Boxing singlet he was presented by the young students and made a point of wearing it to help spur his training.
With all the hard work completed - around 134 rounds of sparring against opponents around various gyms in Las Vegas - Parker said he and Barry have prepared well for the fight and now it was about rest and short sharp sessions.
Paul Hampton, a teacher at Victory Primary School and founder of the Victory Boxing Programme said the inspiration went both ways following a "really successful visit".
Our kids were really taken with him and Kevin Barry, the way they spoke. I was really taken with how he individually signed about 100 posters for the kids. They are all up on their walls at home now," said Hampton.
The Victory Boxing Programme have taken on board Parker's mantra: "The Power comes from within", which will be written across a wall at the gym above a canvas photo print of the most promising New Zealand boxing talent since David Tua.
"We have adopted that as one of our sayings, we will put that up at our gym to inspire our young guys as well."
- © Fairfax NZ News