The Dominion Post

Charity event targets mental health

- Marvin France

Organisers of a corporate charity boxing event have been left more determined to raise awareness about suicide prevention following the loss of one of their own to a suspected suicide.

The Auckland show of the IT Heavy Hitters on May 8 has been dedicated to event crew member Eric Miller, who died in March.

The Wellington card, on May 1, is dedicated to event founder Mike Dawes’ former boxing coach and friend Doug McLay, who died in 2013.

All proceeds go to the Key to Life Charitable Trust, which was founded by leading mental health advocate and 2019 New Zealander of the year Mike King.

While Miller’s death has had a traumatic impact on those involved, King said it’s also had a galvanisin­g effect as they continue to put the spotlight on such an important issue.

‘‘Eric’s passing has had a huge impact on the organisers in particular, given that he was one of the volunteers that helped. It makes us more determined,’’ King told Stuff.

‘‘The whole IT Heavy Hitters was born out of the loss of a boxing coach and to have it continue and have them so close, it just reminds us all that this thing requires 24-hoursa-day, 365-days-a-year attention.’’

Since 2014, IT Heavy Hitters has raised almost half a million dollars for Key to Life, including $122,000 in 2019 before last year’s event was cancelled due to the pandemic.

The programme sees 180 corporate profession­als, mostly from the IT industry, undergo a 14-week intensive boxing training camp, with 72 eventually paired off to compete in one of two fight nights.

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