Coach keen to broaden knowledge
Gore Boxing Club coach Russell Newton will soon get another taste of international boxing when he heads to the China Open next week as an assistant coach for the New Zealand team.
Newton has been part of the New Zealand coaching and selection setup since 2011, with the trip to the China Open the fifth international meet he has attended as a coach.
He has attended two world championships but this will be his first time at the highly regarded China Open.
Last year, heavyweight Joseph Parker won gold in China before he opted to turn professional, much to the disappointment of Newton and other amateur boxing officials.
The focus at the moment for New Zealand boxing is next year's Commonwealth Games in Scotland and international meets like the China Open are used as key events to get the country's leading amateur fighters prepared.
Newton said the more high quality international opposition the better for New Zealand boxers.
The New Zealand Boxing Association's funding struggles have meant the male boxers have had to front up to get themselves to the event, which provides challenges outside the ring itself.
The female boxers in the team do, however, receive funding from government agency Sport New Zealand because they have had more success in recent times.
Even Newton himself as a coach has to pay his own way to get to the China Open.
"We've just got to hope that we can follow on from this one and get more international tournaments for our guys before they get to the Commonwealth Games," he said.
"That's the key, they just need to be saturated in it, but it all comes back to how much their pockets can handle."
To limit the costs the New Zealand team will arrive just two days before the tournament starts, which Newton conceded was not enough time to ensure they could adjust to the time difference and be in top shape for their first bouts.
Newton was confident in the ability of New Zealand's top amateur boxers and hoped they could have some success in China.
He said he would love to be part of the coaching group which helped them progress through to the Commonwealth Games next year and on to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
The spinoff from Newton's time coaching at the international level is that he can hand on what he picks up there to the youngsters he coaches at the Gore Boxing Club.
"I've always said good coaches steal with their eyes and ears. Just being very aware of what is going on around you and picking up bits."
The China Open tournament is on June 16-24.
- The Southland Times