Boxers do region proud
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.