Hopes high Portside Punch will be a real hit

Milligans Food Group business manager Joseph Paton (left), Oamaru restaurateur Sally-Ann Donnelly...
Milligans Food Group business manager Joseph Paton (left), Oamaru restaurateur Sally-Ann Donnelly and boxing trainer Wayne Fisher-Hewitt prepare for the second Portside Punch. Photo: Tyson Young
The Portside Punch was a knockout success four years ago — and organisers are confident round two will be equally spectacular.

Driving force Sally-Ann Donnelly and boxing guru Wayne Fisher-Hewitt are buzzing as the countdown to another massive night of charity boxing and entertainment begins.

At least 11 fights between North Otago identities will be on the card at the second Portside Punch at the former Gillies Foundry building in Ribble St on June 30.

Mrs Donnelly believes 450 tickets — $250 a pop, tables of 10 — for the black tie evening will sell like hotcakes.

"It’s going to be an unforgettable night," she said.

"Great food, great music, great entertainment — and all for a really good cause."

Half of the proceeds from the fight night, which will include an auction, will be donated to the Hugh Adam Cancer Epidemiology Unit, a cancer research group at the University of Otago.

The other half will be split locally between the Cancer Society and hospice.

The inaugural Portside Punch was a remarkable success, raising nearly $120,000 for the North Otago Hospice Hub, but Mrs Donnelly was reluctant to predict how much the second fight night would raise.

As in 2014, the process will start with 40-plus potential fighters gathering to learn more about what is required.

They will all take part in a six-week boot camp, after which 22 or 24 fighters will be chosen and split into Red and Blue teams for six weeks of intensive boxing training under the watchful eyes of Fisher-Hewitt and his son, former New Zealand representative boxer Jonathan.

"The fighters will be very evenly matched by weight and age," Fisher-Hewitt said.

"Training will be very strict, everything is done according to full New Zealand Boxing Association rules, and we will have professional referees and judges.

"We’re not interested in people getting hurt or knocked out. What this is about is people stepping out of their comfort zone and really challenging themselves."

Fighters from the inaugural Portside Punch included Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher, North Otago rugby greats Mike Mavor and Barry Fox,  Constable Dean Paterson and community pastor Tony Dudley.

Milligans Food Group has joined the Portside Punch as a naming sponsor.

— Oamaru Mail

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