Games success just the start for boxing

BOXING GOLD: New Zealand's David Nyika is a Commonwealth champion.
BOXING GOLD: New Zealand's David Nyika is a Commonwealth champion.

As Boxing New Zealand celebrates its best Commonwealth Games in 52 years, two of the men closely involved with the Games team believe this is only the start of what could be a huge surge for the sport.

It was 1962 when New Zealand last won Games gold and silver in the ring.

Boxing New Zealand boss John McKay said this was the toughest Commonwealth Games boxing event he's seen.

"And I've been involved since 1990," he said.

"I think we've done quite well and it actually could have been better.

"I think Bowyn Morgan was rorted and I'm sure that if he'd got the [quarterfinal] decision he'd have won the bloody thing. If we'd had a little bit of luck it could have been even better."

McKay called the New Zealand team's performance "very, very good," but he added there was a lot of room for improvement.

"We had an 18-year-old win a gold medal, two 19-year-olds in the team and the 22-year-old who won the silver is one of the oldest lads in the team.

"We definitely have the ability to continue to get better as we build to things like the next Olympics," he said.

Beaming coach Phil Shatford agreed.

"David Nyika has Olympics tattooed all over his forehead," he said.

"To be honest, I didn't think we'd win a gold and a silver, but I guess it shouldn't be a surprise.

"This team has done some great things abroad in the last year in Serbia and Finland. Those results go a bit unnoticed so it's bloody good to do it here when it's more visible.

"I'm over the moon really. A lot of the praise needs to go to these guys' personal coaches, I've had them for a wee while now, but I just feel honoured to have been part of it and to work with this team."

Shatford said the future looked bright on three counts: the current team were still growing as boxers and he expected them to get better; the depth in amateur boxing in New Zealand was growing; and there was more hype around the sport in the amateur ranks than there had been in years.

"If this doesn't give boxing in New Zealand a real boost, I'll go heave."