Following the annual pilgrimage to the Boxing New Zealand National Championships this year, boxers from all over New Zealand made their way to the afflicted city of Christchurch for the top amateur tournament. Although still grappling with the after-effects of the earthquake, the Garden City had no trouble providing for the assembled fighters, and welcoming the championships back to the city that started it all in the year 1902.
During the 108-year-old-history of the event, Christchurch has played host to the country's finest amateur boxers twelve times; however, it has been a decade since the national champions last graced the city's rings.
Announcing themselves at the home of the tournament, the champions fought their way from Thursday afternoon through until Saturday night, defending titles, renewing rivalries and preparing themselves for even bigger tournaments - in some cases.
By way of practice, and to account for themselves on the national stage first, the six-man Commonwealth Games NZ boxing team also took the ring. Proving that they deserved the positions, as well as the support of the New Zealand public, all six boxers were hung with gold at the end of the event.
Among the highlights from this vindication of the Commonwealth Games athlete selection, was the Angus Donaldson (Manawatu) vs Marley Mahaere (WHV) finals bout. Donaldson defeated Mahaere 16-3 to win his fourth successive Lightweight title, and prove that he deserves to wear the colours for his country in Delhi's rings next week.
The Light Heavyweight final between Reece Papuni (Canterbury) and Sam Rapira (Wanganui/Tar) was another high-quality fight that proved Commonwealth selectors worth. In a fight that was amongst the best of the tournament, Papuni finished the match by claiming the gold medal over Rapira 19-8.
With Super Heavyweight Joseph Parker (Auckland) going unopposed to the golden podium, it was a bumpier road for Heavyweight titleholder David Aloua-Rogers (Waikato) to defend his title. In a true battle of will, wits and strength, Aloua-Rogers went the distance against Tino Honey (Central Auckland), defeating the fighter 15-3 to claim the gold medal.
Commonwealth Games boxers aside, the National Championships in Christchurch showcased the depth of talent in Aotearoa, and offered a promising insight into the future of the sport in this country.
Rehe TeAronui (Central NI) VS Rangi Te Tomo (East Coast) - 52 Cadet female - Red 14-7
Deanne Carpenter (Auckland) VS Kayalah Munday (Auckland) - 60 Junior female - Red 7-4
Rehe Papanui (Central NI) VS Haymien Perwaisy (Canterbury) - 57 Junior male - Blue rsco 2
Aram Sarzali Palani (Canterbury) VS Taaniela Pomare (Auckland) - 60 Junior male - Blue 4-1
Tyler Jefferies (Waikato) VS Reece Birmingham (Auckland) - 63 Junior male - Blue 6-1
Zane Roberts (Central NI) VS David Graham (Wellgt/Hutt) - 70 Junior male - Blue ret 3
Cory Miles (Kirikiroa) VS Jordan Bowen (Nelson) - 75 Junior male - Red 9-0
Masoud Mohamed (Canterbury) VS Gage Brown (Nelson) - 57 Youth male - Red 22-5
Leland Pakinga (Waikato) VS Chad Milnes (Auckland) - 60 Youth male - Blue 8-2
Aryk Whalley (Waikato) VS Harrison Scaife (Wellgt/Hutt) - 64 Youth male - Red pref 4-1
Shaye Brock (Auckland) VS Leroy Hindley (Wellgt/Hutt) - 69 Youth male - Red 11-3
Tevita Pomare (Auckland) VS Nick Charampoulas (Auckland) - 75 Youth male - Blue rsco 2
Kingston Tohu (Manawatu) VS Viki Tofa (Wanganui) - 91 Youth male - Blue rsch 1
Natalia Hume (Canterbury) VS Lloyds Scully (Canterbury) - 48 Elite female - Blue 23-17
Tama Kuru (Central NI) VS Eske Dost (Waikato) - 60 Elite female - Blue 19-5
Katy Flyger (Bay of Plenty) VS Holly Sullivan (Canterbury) - 69 Elite female - Red 16-2
Hurricane Doyle (Shamrock) VS Cladia Heijns (Canterbury) - 75 Elite female - Red rsco 2
Angus Donaldson (Manawatu) VS Marley Mahaere (Wellgt/Hutt) - 60 Elite male - Red 16-3
Nuka Gemmell (Auckland) VS Anthony Taylor (Bay of Plenty) - 64 Elite male - Blue 9-0
Ricky Murphy (Auckland) VS Bowyn Morgan (Canterbury) - 69 Elite male - Blue 28-8
Nathan McEwan (Canterbury) VS Niwha Jones (Kirikiroa) - 75 Elite male - Red rsco1
Sam Rapira (Wanganui/Tar) VS Reece Papuni (Canterbury) - 81 Elite male - Blue 19-8
Tino Honey (Auckland) VS David Aloua Rogers (Waikato) - 91 Elite male - Blue 15-13