The Garden hosts the world epic boxing championships with big names like Joe Louis, Rocky Machiano, sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Iron Mike Tyson putting their footprints there to name a few.
Right there at ground level, on the beachfront outside the On the Rock Night Club, was a boxing ring surrounded by tents, tables and chairs to host the rumble on the beach in Avarua. The concept was completely dazzling and spirited, with a real showtime atmosphere.
Who could have thought of a mixture of blood sport violence blended with dancing, music and spiced up with choice culture performances? There was access to refreshments and ample trays of finger foods were served.
What a turnout! The ladies arrived in full splendour well dressed, ornately adorned, and simply beautiful. Who said this sort of thing only happens in Las Vegas? Our ladies would match social scenes anywhere.
What about the guys? Sorry, I did not go there to watch you!
The night started at 7.15pm with a prayer by the father of Avai Te Tonga, Papa Dan Kamana.
Then the appointed event-launcher had to dash off to deal an emergency. Guess who had the microphone thrust into his fingers at two minutes’ notice? Yours truly! I started off by welcoming everyone to “Madison Square Garden on the beach!”
I introduced some luminaries in attendance such as Queens Representative Tom Marsters, whose guest I was.
I also introduced special guest, former world kickboxing champion. Mark Hunt. In the panic and heat I forgot to add my fellow table guests Wilkie Rasmussen, resident of the Rarotonga Boxing Association, Tupou Faireka former Tupapa MP and Apii Piho, former Manihiki MP and his good wife. Sorry folks, but better late than never!
Just a little aside I managed to get Hunt to autograph the book he wrote about his life. I bought it when I was at the Auckland International Airport in January this year. It’s titled Born to Fight. When someone mentioned to him that I wanted him to autograph my book, he came over to our table to meet us. What a humble, culturally-rich and polite man. I absolutely treasure meeting a world class sportsman.
I launched the event by telling everyone, “Now, let’s rumble in the jungle!”
And yes, I know I should have said “on the beach”. Then the evening started. Young men and women punched and kicked like rodeo horses. There was fury, power, heavy breathing and exhaustion. Happily, there was no hate, no blood noses and no unsportsmanlike behaviour.
The crowd of about 400 were quiet and very well behaved.
There were a couple of knockouts but mainly from exhaustion and lack of fitness to go all 3 two-and-a-half minute rounds. The contrast between those with ring experience and those with less, stood out.
Then the cultural breaks came in. The music and dancing and involved two beautiful ladies from Ngatangiia followed by Mark Short’s cultural team. Those kids are simply the best!
My pick for best-dressed person for the night was 11-year-old Tane Marsters, the QR’s grandson. He had a full tuxedio suit with a bowtie. Cool classy and splendid. I told him he could match Donald Trump’s grandson anytime.
Inano and Giovanni, owners of the On the Rock bar, where on earth did you get such a brilliant idea? Keep it up! We need more!
It was the best event I’ve attended in a long time. I’m usually hard to please, but you did it effortlessly. The food, the refreshments, the music, the company the performances and the athletes stunned us all with excellent performances. Well done, everybody.
Kickboxing and boxing are clearly on the up-and-up. Compliments to your trainers, I believe at the top of the list are Sam Marsters and Ringiao Anguna. Sorry I do not have all the names!
When the night came to an end at 10.30pm, the time the new generation embarks on the second phase of their night out, our table had to evacuate for the night.
I dreaded getting a phone call from one of the grandchildren saying, “Papa, Mama when are you coming home?”