Heavyweights in each other's corner

"Auntie" Judith Collins  and boxer Joseph Parker at Harbourside in Auckland yesterday. Photo / Sarah Ivey
"Auntie" Judith Collins and boxer Joseph Parker at Harbourside in Auckland yesterday. Photo / Sarah Ivey

One's a prize fighter known for leaving opponents stunned and silent. The other is a heavyweight champ.

Judith "Crusher" Collins, 55, and New Zealand heavyweight boxer Joseph Parker, 22, are an unlikely duo.

"She's my auntie. I tell all the boys she's my auntie, and they say, 'No way, serious?' But I'm proud she's got my back," Parker told the Weekend Herald over lunch yesterday.

"I like the powerful connection," he adds with a wink.

"I like having a heavyweight champ to call in should things get nasty," Collins chuckles. "Take that, Trev."

Collins, or "Auntie Judith" as Parker prefers, is related via marriage.

Parker's Samoan father, Dempsey, is first cousin to David Wong Tung, Judith's husband. The family are close, and as Parker tells it, "very involved with every aspect of my career. My dad, my mum, my uncle Moses, my sister and brother, we are all involved with the decision-making. But I go to Uncle David and Auntie Judith for advice on contracts.

They take care of all the legal stuff," Parker says.

Collins and her husband, both former lawyers, keep a close eye on their nephew and his career.

"I always wanted him to go to university because he's so bright. He really could do anything," said Wong Tung.

Parker won a scholarship to Unitec, but the constant travelling with his boxing career took a toll on studies.

"I've put my degree on hold, but I will finish it," Parker says with determination. "When I'm not training, I'm reading. I love to read and learn."

Joseph has returned home this week after a camp in Las Vegas with his trainer Kevin Barry ahead of his fight against American Brian Minto next Saturday.

The Pullman Hotel is home. "It has to be," he explains. "That way I can focus solely on my fight. If I go home, the family will gather around, and mum [Sala] will feed me up."

"No chop suey! No coconut cream!" Collins laughs.

Parker's fight against 39-year-old Minto is his biggest yet and his chance to get into the rankings. New Zealand's heavyweight champ, at just 22, knows this bout is a step up in his career, which includes eight wins from eight fights and seven knockouts.

"I just want to be champ," he says. "I'm focused now. I really want it."

• Joseph Parker v. Brian Minto on Sky Arena on Saturday, July 5.

- NZ Herald

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