Big names turn out for boxing spectacle

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 09:00 16/12/2012
Zac Guildford
Photosport

IN SUPPORT: Former All Blacks wing Zac Guildford (right) was among the many rugby and rugby league stars ringside to support their brethren competing in the ring at Fight for Life.

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Glitz turned out for the blitz in Auckland last night with sports stars and celebrities mixing in the corporate zone at the Fight For Life extravaganza.

The league versus rugby theme in the ring spilled over to the dinner tables with the Warriors and Blues in heavy attendance.

Captain Simon Mannering led the support for star wing Manu Vatuvei who was on the fight card. Former Warriors skipper Steve Price was also there.

And Sir John Kirwan headed the blues table there to support Rene Ranger. All Blacks great Frank Bunce was sitting close by.

Hika Elliot had plenty of support from his Hawke's Bay and All Blacks mates, including Israel Dagg and Zac Guildford.

It wasn't just the football codes in the crowd though. Jesse Ryder took time out from his hot form for the Wellington Firebirds to grab some of the action, no doubt remembering his knockout performance at the same event last year.

What would an event be in Auckland without Sally Ridge? And of course her daughter Jamie was in tow, keen to get up close to the boxing after her own efforts with the gloves on.

Politicians Winston Peters and Shane Carter were there as was John Tamihere.

And there was a notorious Aussie in the crowd too with Melbourne underworld figure Mick Gatto crossing the Tasman for the big night.

Gatto, who attended the recent Danny Green versus Shane Cameron world title fight in his home city, is a big boxing fan, being a highly regarded heavyweight during the 1970s.

These days he's more famous for being portrayed in the hit Underbelly TV series depicting the Melbourne gangland scene.

Gatto, 57, said he "quite enjoyed" the Underbelly series though questioned it's authenticity.

He's a massive fight fan, attending all the major fight nights in Australia.

"I had 10 fights as a professional and won seven of them. A lot of them were comeback fight ... I'd retire, then come back."

Gatto was invited to the Fight For Life extravaganza by promoters Duco, who are keen to get him in the ring for one of their promotions next year.

He said it would take a fair bit of "arm twisting because I'm nearly 60 now".Duco confirmed they would like to get Gatto on one of their undercards for a fight night featuring promising young Kiwi heavyweight Joseph Parker.

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- Fairfax Media

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