A scholarship set up in memory of a young Northlander killed while cycling to fire brigade training has been awarded to two teens keen to make a mark in the world of boxing.
This year's Robin Thorin Memorial Scholarships were presented at Rusty's Gym in Waipapa to Kyle Chen, 15, of Haruru Falls and Floyd Chadwick, 16, of Peria. Each scholarship is worth $2000.
A family friend, Warrick Bleakley, said the scholarship had been running since Robin's death in 2007. The trustees had, however, found it surprisingly difficult to attract applicants so this year they decided to get more proactive.
"We decided we'd give it to youngsters who need a bit of help so we talked to [Kaeo boxing coach] Rusty Porter. He trained my boy and he's done an awful lot for young people. He knew about the scholarship and said he had a couple of good candidates, so I went out and watched them spar."
Mr Bleakley said he was impressed by the gym and the candidates. Kyle had already competed internationally and had his sights set on the Olympics; Floyd showed great commitment by travelling to training every night from Peria.
The money will be held by the gym and used to help cover training and travel costs. The aim is also to support the boys' education.
Kyle said the scholarship would help cover school costs such as bus fares and books as well as boxing gear and transport to tournaments around the country.
His top achievement so far was representing New Zealand at last year's world junior boxing champs in Russia. His aim was to compete in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Mr Bleakley said the scholarship involved an ongoing commitment.
"We'll keep an eye on these boys and we may give them a little more next year if it's needed. It's not a huge amount of money, it's just enough to knock the edges off."
Mr Bleakley said Robin had been a fit young man. As well as keen triathlete, boxer and pilot, he was a volunteer with the Kaeo Fire Brigade. Mr Porter trained Robin when he was still a teenager. His photo still looks out over the gym.
"He was very, very fit. Whatever he did, he did at 100 miles an hour."
The 26-year-old was cycling to a brigade training night in April 2007 when he was hit from behind by a car on State Highway 10.
The motorist, Brian Benson, 36, was a disqualified driver and his car had no warrant of fitness or registration. He pleaded guilty to a charge of driving while disqualified but denied causing death by careless driving. He was found guilty after a defended hearing in Kaikohe District Court and served a community-based sentence after Robin's family asked the judge not to send him to jail.
Robin went to Bay of Islands College and Kerikeri High School before training as a pilot and becoming chief flying instructor at Quantum Aviation in Kerikeri.