Best available fighters to compete for Otago at nationals

Ryan Henry
Ryan Henry
Otago Boxing will finally be able to call on all its best available fighters for the national amateur championships in Christchurch next month.

For the past six years, boxers from the Fight and Fitness Academy have fought under the Manawatu banner.

The Dunedin club split with the Otago Boxing Association in 2012 following a selection dispute.

Fight and Fitness director Ryan Henry felt his boxers were not being treated fairly and the rift widened due to a personality clash.

But with Bryan Usher taking over as president last year, the issues were able to be resolved and Fight and Fitness has rejoined Otago's corner.

"Definitely," Henry said when asked if it was a relief.

"If you look at Awatea [Henry], he started boxing when he was 10 and qualified for the nationals at 12. But he has never represented Otago and he has been to three nationals," Henry said of his son.

"This will be his first time in Otago colours.

"It is something new for him. Being a King's [High School] boy, representing Otago probably has that bit more prestige."

The 16-year-old is one of just three Otago boxers competing at the nationals.

He will be joined by stablemate Matt Crawford and Hammerhead fighter Baden Oxley.

Crawford won back-to-back bantamweight titles in 2013 and 2014. The first was for Manawatu when he was boxing out of Fight and Fitness.

Oxley is contesting the elite 64kg class and faces some stiff competition.

"Part of the reason we wanted to come back is because we just want to make Otago strong again," Henry said, adding he was thankful to Manawatu for providing his fighters with opportunities.

The Otago team is down on some firepower with top fighters Callum Owen, Richie Hadlow and Kasib Murdoch missing the championships. All three won national titles for the province last year.

Hadlow is a four-time light welterweight national champion but turned professional early last month.

Murdoch, a top junior boxer, has been named in the New Zealand team for the Youth Olympics in Argentina next month, while Owen is taking a break from a sport and will not be returning to defend his welterweight crown.

Fight and Fitness qualified two other boxers but Bryce Rayner was unavailable due to work commitments and Rhiane Bishop has been forced to stand down for a month after he was knocked down during a bout last week.

 

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