GOOD SPORTS

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Ron Fo­ley knows how to pack a punch.

The 77-year-old has been box­ing and coach­ing for more than 50 years and is the chair­man and head coach at Sham­rock Box­ing As­so­ci­a­tion in Mt Welling­ton.

Get­ting into the sport was a nat­u­ral de­ci­sion, com­ing from a large Ir­ish fam­ily.

‘‘Back in the early days what mo­ti­vated me with box­ing was my fam­ily. There was six of us boys and we all fought.

‘‘Fight­ing is such a solo thing. I’ve been in it for a long time and it def­i­nitely has its re­wards.’’

He has worked with many top fight­ers through­out his ca­reer, in­clud­ing Afa Tatupu, who se­cured the New Zealand Na­tional Box­ing Fed­er­a­tion heavy­weight cham­pi­onship in April.

The pair parted ways in Au­gust after Fo­ley fell ill and Tatupu lost the ti­tle to Joseph Parker on Oc­to­ber 10.

Fo­ley says am­a­teur box­ers are of­ten as ex­cit­ing to work with as pro­fes­sion­als.

‘‘Work­ing with young peo­ple and just build­ing them up in terms of fight­ing and also their char­ac­ters is the big­gest thing. If you’ve got some­body that can punch you can build around the punch.’’

The mental side to box­ing has al­ways in­ter­ested Fo­ley.

Step­ping into a closed-off area where you could get knocked out takes guts and months of mental prepa­ra­tion, he says.

‘‘It’s a one-on-one en­gage­ment and it’s dif­fer­ent to most other sports. With rugby or some­thing you can pass the ball out but with box­ing you can’t. You have to stand there and face your demons.’’

Hav­ing so many years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the ring and out­side it, means Fo­ley can eas­ily judge whether a new­bie has what it takes.

He is now one of the most se­nior coaches in New Zealand, he says.

‘‘If you stay in the sport long enough as op­posed to just bow­ing out when you leave the ring then you get to a point where it doesn’t take very long to fig­ure peo­ple out.

‘‘When they come in to join a box­ing gym you can work out pretty quickly why they’re there and what kind of com­mit­ment you’re go­ing to get.’’

Fo­ley’s wife Gail is the gym’s ad­min­is­tra­tor and his son Kieran has worked there as a coach.

‘‘Over the years it has be­come very fam­ily-ori­ented. It’s largely due to the area we’re in and the peo­ple that fight here. That’s what box­ing is all about.’’

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