Scaife writes chapter in family story
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.