Editorial: Young men's man our hero

By Mark Story

Craig McDougall (middle) with Henare O'Keefe (left) and Allan Brown of U-Turn Trust Flaxmere Boxing Academy, Hastings.
Craig McDougall (middle) with Henare O'Keefe (left) and Allan Brown of U-Turn Trust Flaxmere Boxing Academy, Hastings.

Legend has it when Time magazine published its inaugural "Man of the Year" feature in 1927 it was accused of trying to remedy a "slow news day".

Back then the winner was American aviator Charles Lindbergh.

Quite rightly the magazine's "Man" of the year has evolved to "Person" of the year with Pope Francis taking this year's honours and appearing on the latest cover as victor.

As judges of Hawke's Bay Today's Person of the Year discovered a fortnight ago, deliberating on the premise of "there can be only one" is a tough gig.

Well, sort of.

Undoubtedly there was much deliberation in whittling nominations down to a top 10; but I'm told there was little quibble when it came to deciding the ultimate winner.

Father, husband, ex-boxing champ, former professional firefighter and Flaxmere Boxing Academy head coach Craig McDougall can now add Hawke's Bay Today Person of the Year to his list of accolades.

Two weeks after the three judges - Hawke's Bay Today editor Andrew Austin, Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wayne Walford and Hastings District Council and Hawke's Bay District Health Board member Jacoby Poulain - exited the conclave, it's our unreserved pleasure to today declare Mr McDougall the deserved winner of the inaugural title.

Through his stewardship at the boxing academy this citizen has worked tirelessly and effectively with at-risk young men.

Anecdotal evidence alone would have been enough to claim the prize. One of our reporters tells me of a solo mother who claimed Mr McDougall had "saved" her son through focus, discipline, empathy, self-awareness and respect.

It'd be simplistic to say these attributes are imparted through boxing. If that were the case we'd be awarding the prize to combat sport. The "Sweet Science" is simply the chosen medium for these messages. The real force is the man in the young men's corner.

Not that the physicality does any harm. "I'm a fan of bullrush too," he told us yesterday on being presented his award. In the ring, when someone gets a tap on the nose, it's about "how they react to that".

He spoke of the ripple effect sparked by his young charges mentoring other males outside the ring.

While I hadn't met him until yesterday, I claim the privilege of living in the same community he works in - and therefore, like the rest of us, I benefit hugely from his work.

While most of us busy ourselves swapping rhetoric on the region's landscape (amalgamation, water storage and energy extraction) here's a guy who toils with the landscape of the heart.

This is no slow news day. His is a news item of immense and admired accomplishment.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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