Oats and church seal the Joseph Parker-Kevin Barry deal video

Joseph Parker and Kevin Barry have a lot of fun amongst their hard training.
FAIRFAX

Joseph Parker and Kevin Barry have a lot of fun amongst their hard training.

A commitment to a daily serving of porridge and attending church on Sundays sealed Joseph Parker's training relationship with Kevin Barry.

When the prospect of Barry coaching was put to the Parker family in 2013 there were some reservations after his well-documented and acrimonious fallout with David Tua.

The subject is aired in a documentary that screens at 8.30pm on Prime on Thursday, Parker v Ruiz Jr: A Fighting Chance, which is a buildup to next week's WBO title fight in Auckland.

The Samoan community were questioning the prospect of the relationship, "Why are you going to go with Kevin Barry? Why do you trust him?"

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The fighter, who had matured and developed a singlemindedness travelling alone for long periods during his final amateur days, wanted to judge for himself, and a meeting was set up with Barry.

"It's all noise, let me go see for myself," Parker asked his parents.

His mother Sala understood: "Joseph speaks his mind ... if he likes you he will let you know."

Parker and Barry struck an instant bond, one that has only strengthened during the almost four years that Parker has lived with Barry's family in Vegas during the long and frequent training camps.

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Barry has had a fatherly influence, his wife Tanya has provided a loving family environment, the Barrys' son has become like a brother and part of the training team, and Kevin and Joseph have become good mates as well as working partners.

But the final agreement for this partnership to go ahead only came when Barry sat down with Parker's parents, Dempsey and Sala.

Dempsey stressed to Barry "there are a couple of things that are very important to us and you have to do these things".

Barry thought this could be heavy.

"Dempsey said, it's very important that Joe eats oatmeal in the morning," Barry recalls with a smile.

"Then Sala quickly adds, it's very important that Joe goes to church every Sunday."

Barry knew the deal was as good as done: "That's fine, I always have oats every morning myself and I promise you we will get Joe to church every Sunday one way or another, although I mightn't always go myself."

The Barrys reveal the joys of having Joe around, and his willingness to get involved in household chores and repairs.

With the help of old homemade videos and photos, the documentary tells the tale of a child who had an unprivileged but loving upbringing, introduced to the sport at the age of three by his boxing-mad father, to now be a 24-year-old standing on the cusp of being a world heavyweight champion.

The toils of getting through various fights and stages in his career are well laid out.

There are also some candid moments with Ruiz, with the film crew allowed good access to his current training camp in Big Bear, California.

Like Parker, Ruiz came to the game early and was a natural despite his chubby frame.

He has finally come to accept the discipline required to go to this next level and the transformation in his body is there to be seen. He's training hard and eating healthy. He's motivated.

"He [Parker] is trying to take food away from my children," Ruiz says of the monetary spoils awaiting the winner of this title fight.

"You have to be willing to die for what you have been working for for so long."

Parker and Barry reveal the "information overload" placed on the fighter for their first major test together against cunning South African veteran Frans Botha, the battle with American warhorse Brian Minto where Barry believes Parker "grew up" and the survival fight against Carlos Takam that has taken them to this historic moment.

"This is it," declares Parker.

"To fight for the WBO heavyweight title of the world, it doesn't get any bigger than this."

Parker v Ruiz Jr: A Fighting Chance screens at 8.30pm on on Thursday, December 1 on Prime and on Sky Sport 4 on Friday, December 2 at 8.30pm.

 - Stuff

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