Novice scrapper gets her vote

01:27, Feb 15 2014
Sam Rapira stand
Sam Rapira in action

Katrina Martin had never been to a boxing match before and was surprised to find herself getting right into the spirit of it.

The International Fight Night, featuring Taranaki's first professional heavyweight title fight, was held at TSB Stadium yesterday.

The New Plymouth sports massage therapist had never really watched boxing but had recently joined Box Office boxing gym for fitness.

She didn't think she would enjoy the violence and gore but found herself leaping up and yelling with the crowd.

"The mongrel comes out."

Ms Martin was a lone Kiwi voice shouting support for 19-year-old debut boxer Justice Grant, of the United States.

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Ms Martin got to know the American boxers the previous day, giving them massages to prepare for their fights.

She said Grant was a nice kid.

"He was really scared. It's his first ever fight and it's international; none of his family is here.

"Although maybe it's better without them there, less pressure," she added.

Grant, whose stepfather heavyweight Chauncy Welliver doubles as his coach, won his fight against Whitz Kerehoma of South Taranaki.

Hamish Mitchell of New Plymouth came with a bunch of mates to watch the fights and enjoy the atmosphere.

"We came last year and it was good," he said.

"It's something different in the provinces, which are normally dominated by rugby."

He was keen to see the hometown hero in the ring.

"Rapira is a good local lad, we're looking forward to seeing him."

Ex-rugby player Maifea Maifea's daughter Tyla Sharrock-Maifea, 13, was watching her dad fight for the first time.

"It was good, it was nice seeing him do what he does best," she said.

Taranaki Daily News