The New Zealand Combat Sports industry has gotten some sad news as the 2021 year starts. The current Pro Box NZ Light Heavyweight Champion Zane Hopman has retired from combat sports.
Auckland born but calling Masterton his hometown, Zane Hopman made his debut into the fighting scene back in 2007 at the age of 17. In his career, he has crossed into multiple combat sports including Muay Thai, Kickboxing and boxing. In Kickboxing and Muay Thai his fight record was 26 - 4 - 1 (6 wins by KO) and in Boxing 9 - 3 - 0 (2 wins by KO) with a total of 35 - 7 - 1 (8 wins by KO).
Zane won his first title back in September in 2013 where he won the WMC North Island Cruiserweight champion. Just a couple of months later he went on to win the WMC New Zealand National Cruiserweight Champion.
In 2014, Zane went to the International Federation of Muaythai Associations WorldMuaythai Championships at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre in Langkawi, Malaysia. Zane who competed in the Senior Men's B-Class heavyweight division was 22 years old and undefeated with 15 wins to his name. He took on Florent Kaouachi from France, Mazunov Stanislav from Kazakhstan and Jakob Styben from Germany, beating them all to win Gold at the World Championships.
At the end of 2014, Zane made his professional boxing debut in Australia against a fellow kiwi boxer, James Porter. Despite losing his first professional boxing fight, his next pro boxing fight he won amazingly by KO against a Hungarian boxer Balazs Varga (11 - 4 - 0) a massive upset in Australia. Originally starting boxing in the cruiserweight division, Zane started crossing over to the Light Heavyweight division in 2019.
Zane has competed in multiple combat tournaments including three King in the rings with him reaching the semi-finals twice. He also competed in his one and only Boxing tournament in 2015 where he fought Israel Adesanya in the semi-finals. Unfortunately, Zane had to take the whole of 2016 off due to a torn ACL that he had to have reconstructed.
After six years of competing in professional boxing and thirteen years of competing in combat sports, Zane got his first Professional boxing title opportunity as he fought for the vacant Pro Box NZ Light Heavyweight title against Ratu Dawai in his hometown of Masterton. After 10 rounds of boxing Zane Hopman won his first and only professional boxing title. Sadly that was also the last fight of his career.
Zane Hopmans boxing manager Craig Thomson says this about Zane retiring.
Zane has always been a true professional throughout his combat sports career, and I say Combat career because he has excelled across multiple different combat disciplines at the highest level for a long period of time. In more recent years I’ve had the privilege of managing his professional boxing career, and can’t speak highly enough of the guy. As I said he’s a true professional in every aspect. It was fitting for him to finish as the light heavyweight champion of New Zealand in his hometown amongst his friends and family putting on a very polished performance. Naturally, I wish him all the best in his combat sports retirement, his wealth of knowledge will be passed down to his students at his gym. I look forward to having a few whiskeys with him and chatting fight sport, and solving the world's problems, not to mention how best we can carry on using “it on in MastertON.” Top bloke and a good friend.
Here is Zane Hopman's statement on his retirement.
***HANGING UP THE GLOVES***
I considered the pros and cons of sharing a summary of my personal diary on social media but am now satisfied that the transparency and honesty of it could impact someone’s life in a positive way so here goes...
Faith, family, freedom and free enterprise are the four things I hold dear and are what I have failed to pour into as I should. FAILED period. I have found myself stretched wider than deeper, embellishing personal pursuits at the detriment of all four of these sacred aspects of life. I slipped into a place of darkness where I have been forced to ask myself questions of principle, purpose and priority which have lead to transformational answers.
My ambitions for success in combat sports has largely consumed my life from the end of my teenage years to now. Training to compete at the highest level in these sports is a selfish endeavour which I regularly tell the athletes within our club. But now as a 30 year old father of three beautiful daughters and husband to a loving, compassionate and truly selfless wife a lot has changed around me in the 12 years since beginning my combat sport journey.
Having chosen this life I’ve sacrificed so much personally but in recent times those sacrifices have been made not only at my expense but also at a loss in the lives of my wife and children. I have struggled for a long time with what purpose God has for my life, utilising the gifts and talents he has blessed me with. In a season which has truly felt like a spiritual winter He has revealed to me that so much more is around the bend for my family and I if I would let go, die to myself and trust in his sovereignty for the well-being of our future.
I want to serve my wife in a more complete way where our marriage flourishes as God has intended. For so long Chloe has sacrificed and supported me through everything and I know I have not given the same in return. I am confronted with that brutal truth but now the freedom that grace and forgiveness offers with the ability to go forward and do better.
My eldest daughter Isabella is now 6 years old and I do not want to be vacant from her academic, sporting and artistic ambitions. I want to be involved coaching, encouraging and cheering her and her younger sisters on throughout their lives.
The passion for coaching extends into our club and it’s members at TFG which Chloe and I have owned and directed for 3 years now. This in itself has stretched us beyond our limits as I took on the role of Coach while still having personal aspirations to compete. I know that I can give our members a better version of myself and serve them in a higher capacity when I do not have the psychological and physical demands of my own career to manage. They deserve this in the same way it was given to me by the coaches in my life.
I’d be foolish to not acknowledge the amazing people who have given so much of themselves to me through time, energy, friendship and financial support throughout the years of competition. Bryce and Kylie Baron, Dave Drummond, Rhys Richards, Brendan Varty, Craig Thomson, Willie Green, Ian Chorley, Calden Jamieson, Rod Langdon, Grant and Ryan Scaife, John Kamo, Kerry Hogan, Lee Malneek, Ben and Monique Bruce, Kurt Mende, Katrina Sigvevtson and Eric Kohitolu. Thank you guys so much for everything you have done and for supporting me through the highs of titles and accolades but more importantly through the complete lows of suspension, grief, loss and injury. The relationship with each one of you is so valuable to me.
Closing the chapter on my fight career I welcome freedom, opportunity and blessing to my family, myself and those who we will encounter. I know that so much more is around the bend!
I have written all this down for nobody else’s benefit except my own but would encourage others out there facing internal struggles that the truth will set you free. The process of putting pen on paper has been healthy, and an act of intent for me. Speak to your loved ones and if needed seek external professional help. Words without action are worthless.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
When asked what will he be doing post competing. He will be spending time with the family, finish his qualifications for his trade and work at the gym that he and his wife own to train up and coming combat fighters from Masterton. From New Zealand Fighter, congratulations Zane Hopman on a successful Combat Career.
Benjamin Watt is well known to all has one of the leading experts in New Zealand Boxing. He is a man of many jobs including, first openly gay boxing judge in the world, boxing writer, boxing promoter, boxrec editor, boxing commentator, Wikipedia editor and backstage event co-ordinator.
He has the nickname of "Mr Controversy" with his none filter comments he would usually make when being interviewed, on commentary or just peoples mixed feelings about him. However, despite this, he is one of New Zealand boxings biggest assets, one of New Zealand's best judges and have accomplished so much in this industry.
If you have an upcoming event and would like it covered, feel free to get in contact with him on:
Email: Bennyaha2@gmail.com Phone: 02108679097
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