Nelson boxers Hoani and Kirsten Takao are squaring up this weekend for date night with a difference. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Boxing bouts a family affair


While most young married couples might spend their spare time at the farmers’ market or going to the movies, Hoani and Kirsten Takao are in the gym throwing punches.

The husband and wife are both set to feature on the card when professional boxing returns to the region this weekend.

‘Legends of Nelson’ will see 12 fights, including two professional bouts, go down at the Trafalgar Centre on Saturday.

Hoani will be competing in his third fight while Kirsten is preparing to make her ring debut.

She was inspired to don the gloves after watching her husband get between the ropes and pick up his second victory back in February.

“It is always something I want to do, and he was my motivation,” Kirsten says.

Just a few months after joining the gym, Kirsten was asked by owner Randall Dixon if she wanted to fight.

“I’m really excited. I’m counting sleeps but also nervous, it’s not like it’s just here at the gym.”

Her opponent, Canterbury’s Kelly McKay, already has a win under her belt and poses a stern challenge.

However, Kirsten is confident she will have the instinct necessary to get the win.

“There will be no hesitation, it will be different to punching your friends at training, I would love that chance to finish the fight.”

Hoani, on the other hand, is less concerned about improving his 2-1 record.

“It’s special for me to be sharing it with my wife, celebrating her debut, regardless of the outcomes it will be a great night.”

Hoani’s bout on Saturday will be a rematch of the fight he had against Riki Winiata, Hoani winning the previous bout by split decision.

“He’s a good fighter, has heavy hands but I have a plan to counter that.”

His first fight came back in 2013 at Victory Boxing’s corporate event.

Though Hoani lost the fight, he was ecstatic to have taken part.

“It had always been a bit of a bucket list thing for me.”

The couple say boxing has been fantastic for their relationship.

“We get to spend quality time together as well as doing our training,” Hoani says.

The parents of four are even able to bring their children along.

“It’s a real family-friendly environment here so we can bring our kids to play with the other children while we train.”

The couple’s children will all be cheering mum and dad from the crowd come Saturday night.

“They are determined that they are coming, they won’t accept no.”

Hoani says they have warned them about the environment and that there will be bias in the crowd.

“We have told them that there will be people not going for us and that’s ok.”

Following the fight, and their rigorous training regime, the couple will be enjoying a bit of a break.

Kirsten says had you told her a year ago that she would be boxing in front of a big crowd at the Trafalgar Centre she would have replied with “I wish”.

“Don’t sit on the idea to get into it for years like I did, if you want to go for it.”

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