Veteran NZ boxing expert lends a hand

Wednesday 12 August 2009 | Published in Sports

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Saturday 8: Veteran New Zealand boxing official Keith Walker will add another signpost in his long career as a technical officer at the Pacific Mini Games next month.

His main role will be to monitor the performances of the referees.

He arrives this weekend for meetings with Boxing Cook Islands who want him to bring them up to speed on the new computerised judging equipment that has been sent to them. Computer scoring will be used for the first time in the Cook Islands during the Mini Games.

Walker, 68, is on the national executive of Boxing New Zealand and has refereed and officiated at several Olympic Games. Boxing Cook Islands is hoping he will certify other local referees to add to the pool of local referees available for the Mini Games which at the moment only comprises old hand boxing official Joseph Haupini.

Walker will spend three days in Rarotonga and departs on Wednesday for another international boxing event. He will return as a technical officer during the Games.

Meanwhile, the boxing venue is shaping up well says Boxing Cook Islands president Tupou Faireka. This week he inspected new lighting installed specially for the competition. His one concern is whether the boxing ring will arrive on the next ship from New Zealand. The sooner it arrives he says the sooner Cook Islands boxers will have the chance to get some training in the actual ring and get used to it before the Games.

Faireka praised the Cook Islands boxers performances in Tahiti recently saying all the boxers fought well before a capacity crowd of parochial Tahitians rooting fiercely for the home town boxers. While intimidating, the experience can only be good for them, he said.

“The reality is that our boys have only a handful of fights under their belt while their opponents had 70, 80, 90 fights behind them.”

While Boxing Cook Islands have nominated 11 boxers to compete at the Games, Faireka expects the final squad to represent the Cook Islands at the Mini Games will comprise perhaps five to seven boxers.

Boxing officials received a distressing blow this week with the news that Matthew Titoa who was on top of his game in Tahiti is not eligible to box for the Cook Islands at the Mini Games because he does not hold a New Zealand passport (he carries a Samoan passport) even though he has been living in the Cook Islands since 2001.

The rest of the team that travelled to Tahiti are expected to box at the Mini Games.

Boxing officials have also cleared the way for an Auckland-based Manihiki boxer to represent the Cook Islands as a superheavyweight and are now waiting to see if he is available to fight in September.

The training programme for the squad in Rarotonga is four days a week Monday, Wednesday, Friday and sometimes Saturday. The squad is due to go into camp three weeks before the Games under the coaching of former New Zealand boxing gym owner Tom Marsters and assistant Ringiao Anguna.