More than just a sport for pro winner

Dunedin boxer Kurt Winklemann in the ring against Waikato’s Nigel Elliott at the Edgar Centre on...
Dunedin boxer Kurt Winklemann in the ring against Waikato’s Nigel Elliott at the Edgar Centre on Saturday night. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Dunedin boxer Kurt Winklemann credits the sport for helping him turn his life around.

The 29-year-old recorded his first professional win with a seventh-round knockout victory against Waikato’s Nigel Elliott for the cruiserweight Inter-Island Pro Box belt at the Edgar Centre on Saturday night.

In the night’s other professional bout, Canterbury’s Josh Hatherley beat Dunedin’s Mike Pascoe by unanimous decision to win the South Island Super Middleweight Pro Box belt.It is believed they were the first professional boxing matches held in the city in more than 20 years.

Winklemann was thrilled to get an opportunity to be part of history and fight in front of family and friends in familiar surroundings.

"It meant the world to me," he told the Otago Daily Times shortly after his bout.

"The last 12 months of my life have been a huge journey. I’ve come along way from where I was, not just in boxing but in life."

Winklemann was jailed in 2014 after pleading guilty to holding a knife to a man’s throat and threatening to kill him.

He has been out of jail for a year and has been trying to turn his life around. Boxing has played an important part in giving him focus, he said.

"Most definitely. It is not just the boxing side of things, it is the people that I surround myself with.

"I can’t thank them enough for helping me get my life back to where I want to get it."

A crowd of about 550 watched as Winklemann dominated his 41-year-old opponent.

There was a lot of dancing and not much punching in the opening round of the eight-round contest.

But Winklemann almost ended the fight in the final moments of the second round, landing a right cross.

It caught Elliott off guard and sent him reeling backwards. Winklemann followed up with a series of heavy blows and stunned Elliott. But the bell gave the veteran an opportunity to rally.

Elliott was being beaten to the punch and taking some heavy blows to the body. But his overhand right remained a threat and he landed some shots of his own early in the sixth round.

Winklemann was able to shake it off and rebounded to win the round. He landed a big left hook late in the seventh and followed up with some devastating punches to knock his opponent to the canvas and seal the win.

Pascoe was well beaten in his six-round bout, but lived up to his nickname of Upright Mike.

"I keep losing fights and I’m getting sick of that. But Upright Mike does not go down," he told the crowd.

There were 13 corporate fights as well, of which the main fight was a bout between former All Black Tom Willis (39) and 21-year-old Jinan Unu. Willis won by unanimous decision.

More than $30,000 was raised for different charities. $10,000 of that went to Harry’s Heroes, which was set up to raise funds to get Harry Finch, who has cerebral palsy, to the US for surgery to give him the best chance of walking independently.

Organiser Ryan Henry said the event had been a success and he hoped something similar could be staged in the city in April.

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