Amateur boxing returns to Waitara for one night

Boxing gym owner Steve Hartley is bringing amateur boxing back to Waitara.
JANE MATTHEWS/STUFF
Boxing gym owner Steve Hartley is bringing amateur boxing back to Waitara.

It's been 35 years since the last amateur boxing tournament was held in Waitara.

Steve Hartley remembers it well because he fought in it. 

Now he is putting on another one on Saturday, even though bringing the tournament back was never his intention. 

Coach Te Amoroa Clifton trains boxer Jesse Mahoney, 19, who is top five in New Zealand and fighting this weekend.
JANE MATTHEWS/STUFF
Coach Te Amoroa Clifton trains boxer Jesse Mahoney, 19, who is top five in New Zealand and fighting this weekend.

The tournament is a side effect of Hartley starting the Waitara Boxer #1 amateur boxing gym more than a year ago.

It was his attempt to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble.

READ MORE:
* Taranaki boxers have Golden Gloves
* Champion Taranaki boxer threatens street protest if sport honours board bid snubbed
* Taranaki's Sam Rapira to remain outside the ring at fight night

Phoenix Shaw, 12, is the youngest boxer from Waitara Boxer #1 competing on Saturday.
JANE MATTHEWS/STUFF
Phoenix Shaw, 12, is the youngest boxer from Waitara Boxer #1 competing on Saturday.

"It's all about discipline, some of them are not used to that," Hartley said.

"This is where my heart lies, with the kids."

Hartley used his own money to build the gym and boxers train there for free.

It's so popular he now needs the help of three other boxing coaches Keiron Toa, Mark Apanui and Te Amoroa Clifton.

It's a lot of work, but Hartley says it's worth it.

Because the classes have been so successful and trained so many boxers, Hartley decided it was time to bring back the amateur tournament. 

The Boxer #1 Youth Tournament will be held at the Waitara Town and Country Club from 5pm on Saturday.

Hartley has six fighters taking part: Te Rapai Barbarica-Love, 22, Ben Rohlott, 17, Aymsleigh Watson, 14, Phoenix Shaw, 12, Stampy Atken, 11, and 19-year-old Jesse Mahoney who has been named top five in New Zealand.

The six Waitara fighters will be pitted against other fighters from around the North Island.

Hartley said amateur boxing wasn't what everyone thought it was and encouraged people to come and see what it's all about.

"People see it as two idiots thumping each other," he said. 

"But it exists to play a part in the community. If we win a gold medal in the mean time, then that's a bonus."

Stuff