Fighting for a good cause

Caitlin Barlow-Groome (left) is facing  Natalie Waller in the first Otago University Students’...
Caitlin Barlow-Groome (left) is facing Natalie Waller in the first Otago University Students’ Association charity fight, to be held in July. Photo: Gregor Richardson
A first-time boxer stepping into the ring to  raise funds  for the Sophie Elliott Foundation says she was motivated to support the charity after hearing stories of abusive relationships among her peers.

Twenty-six competitors from the University of Otago are donning gloves for the first charity fight organised by the Otago University Students’ Association, and they aim to raise at least $500 each for organisations of their choice. The event will be held in Union Hall, on July 13. OUSA president Caitlin Barlow-Groome, dubbed "The Notorious CBG" on her fundraising page, will face Natalie "The Wall" Waller.

Ms Barlow-Groome  said she was keen to support the Sophie Elliott Foundation, the student association’s charity of choice this year.

"People are in emotionally abusive relationships without knowing it until the relationship’s ended," Ms Barlow-Groome said.

"I’ve noticed it happen quite a bit with people my age." 

The foundation, which aims to educate the high-risk 15-to-24-year-old age group about unhealthy relationships, was aware she was fighting to raise money for them. She hoped to get the foundation  on campus to run workshops for students, Ms Barlow-Groome said. Boxers have undergone about four weeks’ pre-fight training at NZ Fight and Fitness, and have another three and a-half weeks to go. Ms Barlow-Groome said she was a bit apprehensive about facing her opponent, who at 178cm was about  20cm  taller than she was, but she had been enjoying the training. OUSA event organiser Scotty Godsall said the boxers had been paired up based on skill level and weight class.

"We are expecting a crowd of about 300," he said.

Mr Godsall said he would eventually like the event — sanctioned by Boxing NZ — to be linked with the University of Canterbury Students’ Association, and for Otago and Canterbury champions to fight in an exhibition match. It was great to see the mixture of men and women who had put their names in.

Seven pairs of female boxers were involved, he said. Fourth-year neuroscience student Ireland Jacobs (21), another first-time boxer, was fighting on behalf of the Mental Health Foundation and was training for two or three hours a day.

"I’d been wanting to get on top of my fitness for a while, it was a spur of the moment [decision]," she said.

"I’m pretty nervous, but I’m also looking forward to it."

Everyone she told was "pretty surprised" but they had also been "super-supportive". It had been inspiring to see the students’ personal development throughout their training, Mr Godsall said.

elena.mcphee@odt.co.nz  

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