With the clock ticking down to the Dare Fight for Youth, the contestants who have put their courage on the line to raise funds for local youth are experiencing a range of emotions as they prepare to enter the ring for the first time.

The fundraising event for the Te Aranui Youth Trust will be staged at the ASB Baypark Arena at Mount Maunganui on Friday, July 12.

Eighteen first-time boxers have been in regular training with Western Bay boxing coach Hemi Niha for a number of weeks and are over halfway in their quest to have the required skills and fitness for three two-minute rounds.

Two of the first aspiring pugilists to put their names forward for the event were Hobec lawyer Michael Sharp and BNZ Property Finance partner Paul Wills. With similar weights, the two were matched to meet at the ASB Arena in July. While they will fight out a decision on the Dare Fight For Youth fight card, they will meet in combat for the first time after separate training sessions in the build-up to the event.


Sharp, who is also chairman of the Te Aranui Youth Trust, said: "We couldn't find anyone to fight Paul so as we are around the same weight I let my name go forward as his opponent. The real benefit a month out from the bout is my improved fitness that was just average when we started out."

Wills said: "I wanted to improve my fitness levels and need a good goal to work to. There is no better encouragement than raising funds for youth and I have been working hard as I don't want to end up on the canvas during the fight.

"The required fitness levels has been a big motivator as I haven't done any fitness workouts since I gave up club cricket seven years ago"

When asked how they have handled the physical aspects of sparring, Michael said: "The sparring has been fun, apart from an odd black eye." Paul said: "I enjoy the physical contact and the time flies by when someone is throwing punches back at you. I must give a big vote of thanks to the trainers and sparring partners at TKO Boxing Gym in Windermere".

Paul said: "I expect to be a mixture of nerves, apprehensive but also excited when I walk to the ring to square off against Michael," while Michael offered: "Terrified is a word that comes to mind about the ring walk, however I am sure with the skills that we have had imparted to us by Hemi and his team we will put on a good bout".

The Te Aranui Youth Trust is the governing body of three youth programmes that have operated for some time in the Western Bay of Plenty. In 2010 DARE, Blue Light and the Police Youth Development programmes came together as they all shared a common purpose of "providing opportunities that challenge young people, whanau and communities to make great choices together". The organisations now work together as the Te Aranui Youth Trust, bound by a memorandum of understanding.

DARE Fight for Youth Fight Card:

  • Michael Sharp (HOBEC) v Paul Wills (BNZ)

  • Paul Jamieson (Staples Rodway/Bethlehem Coachlines) v Damien Hermond (Placemakers)

  • Deirdre Lack (Oceanblue Health Club) v Laura Eccleston (Global Fitness)

  • Alan Hammonds (MSC Engineering) v Shane Hodge (Robert Page Engineering)

  • Matt Barnett (Page Macrae Engineering) v Paul Sowerby (Robert Page Engineering)

  • Brodie Cummins (Cambridge Homes BOP) v Fiona Henderson (Eves Real Estate)

  • Shayne Nelson v Aaron Fraser (Ray White Commercial)

  • Luke Burgess (Westbay Real Estate) v Karl Blinkhorne(Blue Light NZ)

  • Phil Comeskey (Ebbett Holden) v Damian Palmer (Ultimate Motor Group)

For more information contact: Wendy Nicholls, operations manager, Te Aranui Youth Trust 027 562 8972