Nearly 150 amateur boxers from all over New Zealand will compete in a minimum of 95 bouts during the national boxing championships in Rotorua this week.
It is the second consecutive year Rotorua has hosted the event, which starts today at the Energy Events Centre, and it may not have gone ahead had the Central North Island Boxing Association not offered to hold it for a second year.
Rotorua Central Boxing Club owner Rex Jenkins, president of the Central North Island Boxing Association, said he was pleased with the number of entries.
"We have around 150 boxers entered in this year's championships...there are plenty of quality boxers throughout the various divisions which should see some highly competitive boxing throughout the four days," Jenkins said.
Four elite male titleholders will be chasing back to back successes in the championships.
Light welterweight champion Richie Hadlow took the short route to last year's title with a stoppage win in the final stanza. The Otago boxer is aiming for his fourth successive national light-welter crown - victory this week would put him one behind former Olympian Trevor Shailer, who won five successive under-64kg titles in the 1990s.
Leroy Hindley, of North Harbour, won his first welterweight title at last year's championships, to accompany his 2013 light welterweight crown, and will look to defend the title this week.
Current middleweight titleholder Ryan Scaife, of Wellington/Hutt Valley, is from one of the best known boxing families in New Zealand and also returns.
Rotorua local Tyson Sykes, who has strong family ties to the sport through his father Michael who won a Commonwealth Championships silver medal in 1983, will aim to defend his light heavyweight title.
Rotorua also has a defending champion in the female division, with Jenkins-trained Maea Hay currently holding the under-14 female cadet gold medal.
While the championships host a range of talented senior athletes, they are also an opportunity for the next generation of stars to test themselves against the best.
Jenkins said the main reason the association put their hands up to host the event again was to ensure children throughout New Zealand did not miss out.
He said boxing taught children important lessons about discipline, kept them off the streets and got them doing something constructive.
"This is the grass roots of boxing. People often confuse amateur boxing with professional boxing - this isn't about trying to knock each other out it's purely on points, it's an Olympic sport.
"I think it's a great sport for kids, it's something they'll grow up for years knowing they learnt their discipline through boxing.
"Our kids are looking very good, they've trained really well all year. Out of our club this year we've had 27 bouts and lost four, I'm very confident."
Jenkins hoped members of the public would head out to the Energy Events Centre to see the athletes in action.
Representing the Rotorua Central Boxing Club are 13-year-old Maea, her brother Kevin Hay, 11, 11-year-old twins Kahu and Naturelle Rangiawha, and Emile Richardson.
"It's a chance to see some future stars. Our Maea has had 18 starts for 16 wins and the others have done well at the Golden Gloves and Central North Island Championships," he said.
Representing Sykes Boxing Gym are Tyson Sykes and Tyson Corbett, and representing Rotovegas Boxing Gym are Matua Parkinson and Maniteariki Richel.
Boxing New Zealand National Championships 2017 - Daily Schedule
Tuesday: Preliminary competition
Wednesday: Preliminary competition
Thursday: Age Group Finals
Friday: Elite Open Finals