What started with a social boxing fight for two women has morphed into representing New Zealand internationally for Tauranga amateur boxers Ariane Adlington and Michelle Nuku.

Coached by Chris Walker from Tauranga Box - Nuku only joining the team about four weeks ago - the pair will have their debut representing New Zealand internationally at next week's Arafura Games. They are among 13 New Zealand amateur boxers headed to Darwin for the Australian Northern Territory sporting festival.

The Arafura Games, which will feature 17 sports, is seen as catering for elite development competition. The boxing competition excludes current national champions, with Boxing New Zealand taking the opportunity to send two teams, representing the North and South Island.

Both fighters won silver medals at last year's Boxing New Zealand National Championships in Christchurch, with Nuku only coming runner's up to Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Troy Garton. Placings at nationals played a significant part in the duo being selected.


Nuku, 32, and Adlington, 35, both started their boxing careers with a charity or corporate boxing fight and are looking forward to next week's experience and are expecting good things. Adlington will line up in the Female 69 kilogram division and Nuku will fight in the 60kg class.

"I'm expecting good results, also a hard challenge ahead because they'll be training just as hard," said Nuku, a right-hand heavy, quick on her feet fighter with 16 bouts under her belt.

"Ideally next week, I'm back with the win, she says.

They leave on Monday and will find out on Tuesday morning when they will fight. They both are unsure who they will come up against but that information is not vital to either.

"You can't prepare for what they've been doing previously because you're a different opponent," Nuku said.

Adlington says she is excited and nervous about the games but says she has to remain focused on her own game plan rather than anyone elses because that is out of her control.

"I kind of have my own game plan. I know I'm going to be fighting somebody, I've got to do what I've got to do and stick to my own game plan," Adlington says.

Something else she is quite relaxed about is the weather conditions, saying she's unsure how she will cope in the humid weather conditions of the Northern Territory but will take it as it comes.


"There's not much you can do," she says.

One thing is for sure though is that both Adlington and Nuku want the win, which their coach Chris Walker says they are capable of.

He believes both fighters have a lot to offer and have a bright future in the sport.

"Ari is in the sport for the long haul and the Arafura Games fits in beautifully with her progression on the Boxing New Zealand elite pathway. She is determined and hardworking and has been fighting more experienced opponents from the start of her career," Walker said.

"Michelle is a new addition to our team, having previously being trained by Gregg Conning, who is taking a break from the sport. She shows good fundamentals and a desire to improve."

He says both fighters will be able to gain a lot from the Arafura Games experience.

"Ari and Michelle will gain some valuable experience for the future and with most countries sending their number two boxers, the boxing tournament will be competitive but achievable for both our boxers," Walker says.

"Both Ari and Michelle will be better for the experience in Darwin and should continue to improve," he said.

Tauranga Boxing fighters in New Zealand team for Arafura Games:
Female 60kg: Michelle Nuku (Bay of Plenty).
Female: 69kg Ariane Adlington (Bay of Plenty).