Fighter throws gloves in for disabled

DON WRIGHT
Last updated 13:20 25/12/2013

BOOK REVIEW: Born to be a Fighter
By Denny Enright (printed By Craig Print and Design Invercargill, RRP $20)

Denny Enright has done his Southland family proud and is rendering disabled babies, children and adults from his home province generous assistance with the publication of his first book that was 25 years in the making.

The 1970 New Zealand champion light welterweight boxer - now of Mt Maunganui - is donating all profits from his book to Conductive Education (Southern Centre), which sets out to teach basic life skills to disabled persons and help them "to achieve as normal a life as they possibly can" in the words of the centre's chairman, John Rhodes.

Mr Rhodes lauded the gesture of "a champion fighter who is now unselfishly helping many who are fighting disabilities every day."

Conductive Education (Southern Centre) manager Kevin Wall QSO said at last Saturday's Invercargill launch that no parents set out to have disabled children but that eventuality could be a harsh reality of life.

A humble man and a proud and passionate Southlander, Enright has recalled his immediate family's life at Kapuka between Gorge Rd and Mokotua in southern Southland.

The family's nationwide pugilistic prominence was forged by patriarch the late Bill Enright, a distinguished trainer and respected Kapuka farmer and citizen. His sons, Denny, Peter and Terry, inherited his skills in the ring. Another son Michael was a polished rugby pivot for the Galbraith Shield- winning Marist club of his time.

Frills and fancywork were never part of the Enright men's repertoire, rather a dogged and focused determination that equipped them to deal with life as children through the demanding 1950s.

The annual Kapuka club boxing tournaments in the nearby Oteramika Hall showcased distinguished trainer Bill, his sons and other protege in a golden era for boxing in the south.

How could the sport's followers ever forget the ringcraft and resilience of the Enright brothers, Les O'Donnell and Roger Birch? They trained like demons and delivered accordingly.

In the book's foreword, Sir Bob Jones observes: "To obtain a professional licence in Denny's era, a boxer was expected to have under his belt a lengthy and successful top-level career, usually dating back to his childhood.

"Denny certainly had that but, more pertinently, an aspiring professional had to be very good and Denny undoubtedly qualified on that count."

Denny sought former Southland Times sports editor Lynn McConnell, of Auckland, to edit his first book which is selling briskly at an appealing price of $20.

"I found it a good read," commented McConnell, who has written 17 books. "The close-knit family certainly suffered its setbacks that add to the reality of family life which is well captured in the book."

Enright pulls no punches in the postscript when he says: "The professional side of boxing has far too many sanctioning bodies, namely the WBC, WBE, WBO, IBF and IBO."

"Each of those sanctioning bodies is run as a business to make money, most times at the expense of the boxers involved," he said.

Born To Be A Fighter will appeal equally to hard-core fighters and all Southlanders as a fascinating human- interest story of a dedicated family man and his supportive wife Nan who helped him realise there was a life after boxing.

Denny now contents himself with helping less fortunate Southlanders to fight the battles of their lives.

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