Boxers partner up with cancer battlers

By Chloe Johnson

Bubba Tuigamala (L) with Ardie Hickey and Bubba's father Inga Tuigamala. Photo / Herald on Sunday
Bubba Tuigamala (L) with Ardie Hickey and Bubba's father Inga Tuigamala. Photo / Herald on Sunday

Ardie Hickey wakes each morning and prepares for his fight like a boxer.

But the 24-year-old won't end up in a ring facing a sweaty, brawny opponent. His fight is with an aggressive brain tumour.

Hickey was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2010 after living with double vision for about a month.

A tumour the size of a golf ball was removed from his brain, but it grew back three times, eventually resulting in a terminal diagnosis.

This month, Bubba Tuigamala - the son of former All Black winger Inga Tuigamala - will join the fight for Hickey at charity boxing event Ringside Fight Night 10.

Fourteen amateur, corporate and professional contenders have been partnered with a CanTeen member who will be their motivation on the night.

The contenders have also raised more than $24,000 for CanTeen.

When Bubba and Hickey met for the first time last week they discovered they lived on the same street in Otara, South Auckland. Bubba said Hickey was a joker and "just like one of the boys".

He said only two things will be on his mind during his debut as a professional boxer - his family and Hickey.

"My fight is no comparison to Ardie's fight," Bubba said. "Mine is, max, 12 minutes in the ring but Ardie's fight is for life. I have a lot of respect for him and the others with cancer."

Hickey said life had been tough since his diagnosis but he focussed on the positives such as marrying the love of his life, Natalie, on Valentine's Day.

The couple tied the knot in a romantic albeit whirlwind wedding two weeks after learning his cancer was terminal.

"It was a perfect day, just perfect," Hickey said.

He said it was exciting meeting Bubba, the nephew of boxing legend David Tua. But, he quipped, the emotion was probably mutual.

"All the fighters wanted me," he said.

* Donate towards Bubba and Ardie at: http://tinyurl.com/pgj7hrh

- Herald on Sunday

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