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.’’