Young Bay boxer ex­cels at na­tion­als

Hawke's Bay Today - - Sport - Box­ing na­tion­als Christchurch Anen­dra Singh

Waipuku­rau young­ster Bron­son Saun­ders is slowly but surely carv­ing a niche in the box­ing ring af­ter re­turn­ing with a ti­tle from the am­a­teur na­tional cham­pi­onship in Christchurch last week.

Saun­ders set the tone at the four-day an­nual event by be­com­ing the first pugilist to win a crown, when he beat Kalai Proc­tor, of Taupo, in the cadet 36kg, un­der-15 divi­sion.

“It’s pretty ex­cit­ing,” says the 12-year-old Cen­tral Hawke’s Bay Box­ing Club mem­ber, who only slipped on a pair of gloves two years ago af­ter fol­low­ing a Waipuku­rau Pri­mary School mate, Mar­cus Leach, in a bid to stay fit for club rugby.

Saun­ders also had beaten K Beauchamp, of Can­ter­bury, on the way to the fi­nal on Fri­day last week.

The ic­ing on the cake for the level-headed boy was meet­ing dou­ble Com­mon­wealth Games gold medal­list David Nyika who won the Jame­son Belt, which dates back to 1927. It is awarded at each na­tion­als to the most sci­en­tific se­nior male boxer. The 23-year-old Auck­lan­der fol­lows in the steps of re­tired pro­fes­sional Shane Cameron (2001) as only the sec­ond heavy­weight to win belt.

“He said con­grat­u­la­tions to me and all that,” says Saun­ders, im­pressed with Nyika’s over­all de­meanour.

The young­ster, who kept 14-year-old Proc­tor in check by pil­ing pres­sure on him ev­ery time he took a step back from a solid hit, won back-to-back golden gloves ti­tles (cadet 36kg) in Taupo this year and (cadet 34kg) last year.

The or­tho­dox fighter, who trains un­der Sam Fuller and Rob­bie Elmers, har­bours Olympic games dreams but still plays half­back/wing in rugby.

He in­tends to de­fend his crown when the na­tion­als are staged in Hawke’s Bay next year.

Father Pe­ter Saun­ders says he’s had a good year af­ter he got sick be­fore last year’s na­tion­als.

“[David Nyika] is a good role model for him to see be­cause he’s a good guy,” he says. “Bron­son saw him go through his rou­tine in the chang­ing rooms and re­alised how much more he has to do.”

The se­nior Saun­ders thanks the CHB com­mu­nity for help­ing raise funds for his son through fire­wood sales.

Hutt Val­ley boxer Ryan Scaife also went back-to-back in the mid­dleweight class with a 4-1 ma­jor­ity vic­tory over Giants Hast­ings Academy fighter Saili Fiso, fight­ing un­der the CHB ban­ner.

“It was a good ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­cit­ing that I made it to the fi­nals to the fight the best,” Fiso says of his Com­mon­wealth Games op­po­nent, who he has sparred with. He picked up tips from Aussie trainer Bodo An­dreass.

Shi­rahn Lee also made the 60kg youth fi­nal to come away with a sil­ver medal.

Giants owner/trainer Craig McDougall says it was the first time in two decades a Bay team had trav­elled to­gether.

Saili Fiso (left) with David Nyika, Bron­son Saun­ders and Nyika’s brother, Josh.

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