Ah Kuoi spurred by tragedy into charity fight
Nick Ah Kuoi has watched boxing closely over the years.
Like many in his age group, he grew up admiring the likes of Mike Tyson as he went about destroying his opponents in the ring.
However, the 30-year-old admits when boxing features on telly these days he watches even more closely. He watches with a much more analytical eye, trying to pick up tips.
Ah Kuoi is one of 24 novice boxers who will step into the ring for the first time on Saturday, August 16, as part of the Fight for Kidz charity event.
The event is organised by Dave Bartley and Steve Boutcher and has raised more than $300,000 for charity over the years.
Proceeds from this year's event will go to Ruru School in Invercargill, which caters for students with special needs.
The 2014 event will be the first since 2010, with Fight for Kidz taking a break after the collapse of Stadium Southland.
Ah Kuoi had been keen on the idea of stepping into the ring in the past and the thought of helping a charity out pushed him to put his name forward.
The Invercargill electrician had tragedy close to him when his sister's newborn child died and it prompted him to think more people could do something to help various charities.
Ah Kuoi's sporting background has been with rugby and rugby league. On Saturday, he was part of the Marist team that lost the Galbraith Shield final against Woodlands at Rugby Park in Invercargill.
"This is a new challenge and I'm quite excited about it. I'm used to playing team sports. With boxing, you are there by yourself, you've got no-one else. And if you don't move, you'll get a hit in the head," he said.
He will take on Jimmy Ferris and little separates the two in the tale of the tape. Both are 30 and are expected to weigh in at about 90kg - although Kuoi does have a 6cm height and reach advantage.
Ah Kuoi said he did not know Ferris well and would not try to get to know him until after the fight. "I met him once at the team meeting, when we all met. He seemed like a nice guy, but I'm just trying not to like him at the moment, because I'll feel sorry punching him in the face. I'll wait to have a beer with Jimmy after it. I'm sure we'll get on well."
It has been a disrupted buildup for Bartley and Boutcher, who also train the fighters, as they have had plenty of boxers pull out for various reasons in the leadup.
It has meant for some scrambling to find replacements.
The Southland Times