Box­ers do re­gion proud

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - By DEB­BIE JAMIESON

Two Queen­stown box­ers are now aim­ing for the Olympics after claim­ing New Zealand ti­tles on home turf at the week­end.

Richie Had­low and Callum Owen are both na­tional ti­tle hold­ers after the NZ Box­ing Champs fi­nals on Satur­day night and now their coach and the event pro­moter Ste­wart Mitchell want to raise funds to take them to the next level.

‘‘I want to take them to Cuba and Brazil and get them some rough, tough fights... It’s only go­ing to get big­ger,’’ Mitchell said.

About 800 peo­ple packed into the Queen­stown Events cen­tre after four days of box­ing to see Had­low, 26, a per­sonal trainer, fight Com­mon­wealth Games quar­ter-fi­nal­ist Hind­ley in the light wel­ter­weight ti­tle fi­nal.

He shocked ev­ery­one by knock­ing Hind­ley out in the first round, Mitchell said.

‘‘I said all along Richie could have been the real dark horse of the show. He’s very heavy handed, with both hands and Leroy is very ex­pe­ri­enced. I thought it would be an ex­plo­sive fight. It was un­be­liev­able.’’

Lo­cal builder Callum Owen, 25, faced Shel­don Whalley, a three-time na­tional cham­pion

Callum Owen (in blue) bat­tles it out with Shel­don Whalley on his way to claim­ing the mid­dleweight ti­tle at the champs. and Aus­tralian champ, in the mid­dleweight fi­nal.

After strug­gling a lit­tle in his first round he didn’t stop punch­ing and even­tu­ally claimed the ti­tle.

‘‘He’s a fight­ers’ fighter. He was al­ways go­ing to go down fight­ing but he upped his game and won.’’

Cou­pled with a ti­tle won by Dunedin boxer Matt Craw­ford, the per­for­mance was the best seen from an Otago team at na­tional cham­pi­onship level and the team drew with Auck­land for the largest num­ber of elite wins.

Mitchell, also pres­i­dent of the Cen­tral Otago Box­ing Char­i­ta­ble Trust which backed the event, said he was pleased the event broke even.

‘‘Queen­stown now knows what am­a­teur box­ing is. I feel this is the start not the end. Now we can fo­cus on putting on an even bet­ter show and I think Queen­stown will back us.’’

He hoped to see the na­tional event re­turn to Queen­stown in 2017.

The event’s suc­cess and the suc­cess of the Queen­stown box­ers, five of whom made it to the champs, was also at­trib­uted to support from lo­cal busi­nesses over the two years Mitchell had spent work­ing on it.

‘‘I’m so happy. I couldn’t be hap­pier. It’s been all worth­while,’’ he said.

Tough contest:

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