Fundraiser may be down for count

By Shane Hurndell

Pat O'Brien was a man of mixed emotions after Saturday night's third annual Battle 4 Life Charity Boxing event in Hastings.

"This could be our third and last one of these ... we just don't get the support from those who should be supporting it," the event's organiser and former Hawks basketballer said after the Hawke's Bay Opera House-hosted fundraiser for Child Cancer Foundation's local branch.

"It's been a long journey and lots of people said I couldn't do it without alcohol. Mum will tell you I never did what I was told," O'Brien quipped.

"I've got to thank my family for their support to help make it happen ... it's a great kaupapa," O'Brien told the crowd of 800-plus.

His face lit up when the conversation turned to his wife, Sport Hawke's Bay's regional kaiwhakahaere for He Oranga Poutama,Theresa O'Brien, who drew her bout with former Black Sticks hockey player, two-time Olympian Caryn Paewai.

"Theresa is disappointed she didn't win. But I'm rapt ... Theresa had the flu for the past fortnight but not once did she consider pulling out."

Their bout was action-packed and Paewai, 37, was thrilled with what she produced out of a 12-week training programme she had to fit in around her hockey coaching.

O'Brien dedicated her display to another friend Renee Allen who was unable to fight when her opponent Maria Apera-Jones was a late withdrawal.

"It was such a hard fight ... I knew Caryn would bring it," she added.

Former Napier Boxing Club member Tipene Maniapoto beat Hawke's Bay's multiple mixed martial arts champion Dan "The Gravedigger" Digby by a unanimous points decision in the main bout. Maniapoto has turned his attention to mixed martial arts and will have a kick boxing fight in three weeks.

"I like to give everything a go and I should be back for this event again next year if it is still going," he said.

Former Hawke's Bay club rugby and league player Robert Whaitiri is the only fighter to have fought in all three of the fundraisers and on Saturday night his unbeaten run was ended by Taupo deputy mayor Mike Downard who scored a unanimous points victory.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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