Scaife writes chap­ter in fam­ily story

Upper Hutt Leader - - CLASSIFIED -

He trains at Here­taunga Box­ing Club in a ring built by his grand­fa­ther. His fam­ily has a tra­di­tion of ex­celling with the gloves. Now Ryan Scaife is mak­ing a name for him­self,


Box­ing is in Ryan Scaife’s blood. His brother, Har­ri­son, is a for­mer na­tional am­a­teur cham­pion who once fought Jeff Horn at the Ocea­nia Cham­pi­onships. Fa­ther, Grant, should have been an Olympian in 1980, but New Zealand joined a USled boy­cott of those Moscow Games. Grand­fa­ther, Alan, fin­ished fourth at the 1954 Em­pire Games in Van­cou­ver, start­ing the fam­ily ob­ses­sion with pugilism. And it doesn’t stop there. At Here­taunga Box­ing Club in Up­per Hutt, Scaife trains in or along­side the ring his grand­fa­ther built. It’s a ring which once saw Muham­mad Ali bounc­ing be­tween the ropes af­ter Alan made an au­da­cious in­vi­ta­tion to the le­gend him­self in 1979. Muham­mad Ali floated like a but­ter­fly in the Scaife fam­ily ring.

Even away from the ring, Scaife’s box­ing blood shines through.

On train­ing runs around Up­per Hutt, in the early morn­ings or street light lit evenings, you’ll see Scaife ac­com­pa­nied by his lov­able dog, Rocky. Rocky is a boxer, or course, and just loves a train­ing run with his supremely tal­ented owner.

‘‘My brother, my dad and my grandad were all light wel­ter­weight champs,’’ Scaife says. ‘‘It’s al­ways been hard to do some­thing in box­ing that hasn’t been done by some­one in my fam­ily, so the Com­mon­wealth Games is a chance to add a bit to the fam­ily history.’’

Scaife, a softly spo­ken and over­whelm­ingly po­liteNew Zealand mid­dleweight cham­pion, is ex­pected to be part of the Kiwi team for the 2018 Com­mon­wealth Games in Aus­tralia.

He is un­de­feated in this coun­try over the past eight years, dat­ing back to a loss as an 12-year-old at the hands of Shan­non McSkim­ming, now bet­ter known for giv­ing a cricket ball a tweak than his fast hands in the ring.

Over­seas he’s been handed the oc­ca­sional tough loss, at the hands of a pair of Rus­sians, but has never been stopped in the ring.

With grow­ing in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence, in­clud­ing a pair of vic­to­ries in Tai­wan last month, Scaife is feel­ing con­fi­dent of not just mak­ing the New Zealand team for the Gold Coast, but of go­ing deep into the tour­na­ment it­self.

‘‘Ever since I was lit­tle I’ve been like, Olympic gold, Olympic gold,

‘‘You want peo­ple close to you that you can trust, so I have a good time with him [his fa­ther Grant] in the cor­ner.’’

but I’ve started to learn those smaller steps you take in get­ting there and how much hard work it takes.

‘‘When I was younger I’d head over­seas and let it over­whelm me. I’d come home and start win­ning, but I’d never re­ally cracked it over­seas un­til this year.

‘‘I feel like it’s my time to be one of the big­ger names in the New Zealand team and carry my­self with that im­por­tance that I am there to win, and not just make up the num­bers.’’

It’s the kind of con­fi­dence Scaife has seen first hand in Kiwi heavy­weight David Nyika, who could well be the best am­a­teur heavy­weight on the planet right now, but for New Zealand’s lowly stand­ing in world box­ing to hin­der him in judges’ eyes.

It’s a tough re­al­ity for New Zealand box­ers. Big­ger box­ing na­tions tend to get close de­ci­sions at big tour­na­ments, based on rep­u­ta­tion rather than abil­ity.

Scaife hasn’t been on the rough end of a de­ci­sion over­seas, but he knows box­ing is harder as a Kiwi fight­ing abroad.

As such, he’s plan­ning to bring his very best over the next year, and to try to take de­ci­sions out of the judges’ hands.

He plans to do that by con­tin­u­ing to de­velop his craft, and much of that hap­pens at Here­taunga. Just watch­ing the other fighters in the gym can pro­vide in­spi­ra­tion and im­prove­ment. Then it’s down to hard work.

‘‘I’d al­ways take in­spi­ra­tion from the other guys fight­ing in the gym grow­ing up,’’ Scaife said.

‘‘From my brother, from the Gardner boys [Scott and Jamie] . They were al­ways so ruth­less, and they’d al­ways say it’s not a tick­ling com­pe­ti­tion, which is pretty funny.

‘‘Dad loves a left hook, and my brother had a good left rip, so I’d get them to demo it and then it’s rep­e­ti­tion, prac­tise it my­self.’’

Speak­ing of his dad, Scaife said it can be tough at times work­ing with him al­most 24 hours a day.

‘‘It’s pretty hard. I can see him strug­gling some­times be­cause I do a bit of work for him as well. So he’s the boss, dad and coach all in one day al­most.’’

Scaife says they work to­gether well be­cause of the trust be­tween them. That can pro­vide a re­laxed at­mos­phere when things are click­ing.

‘‘At na­tion­als, in the cor­ner, I think it was the fi­nal fight, the sec­ond round, I was win­ning, do­ing well, and we had noth­ing left to say in the cor­ner, so we had a lit­tle laugh.

‘‘You want peo­ple close to you that you can trust, so I have a good time with him in the cor­ner.’’

Scaife has a rare two weeks off now. He cleaned up at na­tion­als in July, claim­ing the Jame­son Belt as the most sci­en­tific fighter in the process. He also won the Ocea­nia ti­tle, and the ti­tle at the Taipei Box­ing Tour­na­ment last month with two wins in two fights.

Then it will be back to train­ing, and prepa­ra­tion for what he hopes will be a bumper 2018, a year that will etch his name into the fam­ily history books and per­haps those of the Com­mon­wealth Games as well.

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