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Boxing success . . . Carlos Earle (left), Cookie and Missy at the Leithfield Club's training facility. PHOTO: ROBYN BRISTOW

By ROBYN BRISTOW

Boxing has turned Bo-Dean (Missy) Blackburn’s life around.

Missy is fit, trim, doesn’t drink and is a no nonsense sort of gal.

“I was into anything but exercise,” she says.

The single mum’s new lifestyle has helped her to the top of the podium, winning the Southland Boxing Association’s elite grade in Invercargill recently.

Missy followed this up by claiming the 2017 South Island Golden Gloves championship at the Cashmere Club, winning the 81kg Elite Female Novice event.

Missy, who has only been training and boxing for a few years, credits her Southland win to her superior fitness as her opposition was expected to “romp away”.

“It was a bit of an upset,” says Missy who was taking part in her first three round, three minute event.

It was also a first for her in the elite open grade.

“I was in a great frame of mind and kept going forward. My fitness helped,” she says.

When Missy decided to have a crack at boxing she thought it would be “simple and easy”.

“I decided I would never say that again when I found out about the training that is involved,” she says.

Missy will come up against her Southland opponent again on August 26 at the Leithfield Boxing Club’s event at the Amberley Domain Pavilion, which is being run in conjunction with the Amberley Lions Club.

The rematch promises to be a highlight of the event which is being held to raise funds for the Leithfield Club and to benefit other youth activities in the district.

It is also hoped there will be a “spin off” for the Leithfield Boxing Club with a boost to its membership and to help buy equipment.

Carlos Earle, who also boxed well at the Cashmere tournament taking out the 52kg, 2017 Golden Gloves Cadet Male Novice event, will also be in the ring at Amberley.

Carlos, aged 14, who attends Hurunui College, was introduced to boxing in Rotorua, and finds the discipline and fitness of the boxing arena a huge benefit.

Behind the scenes, two men are largely responsible for the success of the two athletes.

Bob Halliday and Cookie (Glen Cook) now have around 30 athletes under the wing and also provide valuable fitness training for several sports clubs.

They encouraged young kids to join and are committed to “turning youth around”.

“They often come to us as young upstarts and cause hassles. Young kids need to let off steam and this is a really good environment because it is controlled and where they learn about control, fitness and perseverance,” say Cookie and Bob.

Bob says the club, which was spawned largely by the Christchurch earthquakes, is now at the stage where several individuals such as Missy, Carlos and Zane Boocock, were up to a level to train for the nationals in Rotorua from September 11 to 16.

“There is a huge cost element to going to nationals,” says Bob, but everyone is working hard to help pay for the accommodation and travel and to make up for lost wages.

Cookie, who trained young boxers for around 35 years with Kevin Barry senior in Christchurch, started the club after moving to Leithfield after being displaced from Brooklands by the Christchurch earthquakes.

The club has had to move several times as it has grown.

“We started off in my house but when people began to donate weight machines and the Lions came on board we got too big and had to move,” he says.

The little club was extremely grateful to be offered a new home in a large garage owned by Debbie Topp, but when Debbie sold up it moved again, this time to a specially built garage on Bob Halliday’s property near Amberley.

Cookie says the club is giving young people something to do in North Canterbury. At Kev’s gym it was about keeping kids out of trouble, training them to keep them on the straight and narrow and giving them an outlet for their energy and frustrations.

Leithfield was also providing a place for youths but now adults were wanting to give boxing a go, he says.

Amberley Lions club president James Drewery is promising to deliver a spectacular evening function in the Amberley Pavilion, complete with lighting by Sam King and some close fought
and entertaining bouts.

Bob and Cookie have been training members of the Amberley and Glenmark-Cheviot Rugby Clubs to take part in bouts and the heavy weight champ of New Zealand Sam Watt will be
there, along with plenty of other boxers to showcase the sport.

There are tables which will be catered for by a Michelin chef and it is hoped there will be enough seats for others to enjoy the event.

Tickets are selling fast and cost up to $150 for catered seats and $20 for uncatered.
Anyone wanting to attend can contact James on 027-4381676.

“There is over 30 sponsors, but the Lions Club would welcome any more who want
to come on board,” he says.