For Tony Sanpe it’s about his son.
For James Maxwell it’s about his daughter.
For both men, stepping in the ring at next year’s Fight 4 Victory will mean more than trying to win a boxing bout. They’re doing it for their families.
Tony and James were confirmed as the eighth bout for the Fight 4 Victory charity boxing event in April. Both men have each competed in one fight before but, for both, it’s not about the sport, it’s about what the sport does for the community and they’ve both seen its positive effects – first hand.
Tony, who works at the Copier Company, says he got into boxing after his 16 year old son asked him if he could give it a go.
“My son is 19 now but he got bullied a lot at school, and he came to me when he was 16 and said ‘Dad, I want to start boxing’. He had really low self-esteem and no co-ordination. He was really reserved, but the boxing changed him over night.
“The change in him is amazing. I’ve seen it with him so I can only imagine how great it is for all these other kids who are a part of the programme.”
James, a landscaper, has also seen the positive effects of boxing for young people. His nephew is involved at Victory Boxing and he boxed as a student, but he says his main motivation is his daughter. She is six years old and is on the autism spectrum. He says being a part of the Fight 4 Victory is a chance for him to “be a better dad”.
“We came up from Christchurch a couple of years ago after the earthquakes. They were pretty horrible days, especially having the special needs situation at home made it harder, but one of the toughest things for me was driving through town the day after the big one and seeing the ring in my old boxing gym hanging out the side of the building. The training I did there meant a lot to me, so seeing that was devastating.
“So, to be able to do this is great. It’s really motivating to be a part of it and just try to be a better dad and a better role model.”
He says moving to Nelson has been fantastic for his family and he now wants to give back to the local community.
“We’ve had a good time in Nelson over the past few years, work has gone well, everything has come together for us since we moved here, so it’s nice to be able to give back.”
Tony says he has had one kickboxing fight three years ago, while James has had one boxing fight about eight years ago in Christchurch.
Victory Boxing Charitable Trust programme director, Paul Hampton, says hearing the men speak about how important the fight is for them is humbling.
“We’re really passionate about helping kids in the community and hearing these guys stories is great, that’s what makes it worthwhile.”
The Fight 4 Victory is at Saxton Stadium on April 4 next year. To book a corporate table, email [email protected]
Tickets for the general admission seats go on sale in January.