Boxer and gym owner Shane Cameron says starvation was the hardest part of being on Celebrity Treasure Island but he enjoyed the reality show more than Dancing with the Stars.
1 Growing up near Gisborne, did you always want to be a boxer?
My Scottish grandfather used to box back in the 1920s but there were no boxing clubs where I grew up in Tiniroto, 50 minutes inland from Gisborne. Mum and Dad worked on local farms. I left school at 13. Years later, I realised I had dyslexia but no one identified it at the time. Mum did my correspondence while I worked on a farm up the road. She got some good grades. Mike Sheriff, the farmer, taught me how to shear a sheep, shoe a horse, break in a dog. He's a good man. Still alive today and looks the bloody same too.
2 So how did you get into boxing?
I went to England when I was 19. That was an eye-opener. I'd never even been to Auckland. People everywhere. I saw some boxing on TV one day and thought, "Man I want to give that a go." I found a local boxing club and within three months won my first fight. In two years, I was ranked number three in England in my weight division. My brother persuaded me to come home and try for New Zealand's Commonwealth Games team. I won a bronze medal - probably the highlight of my amateur career.
3 Was it a hard decision to turn professional?
Not really. I could have qualified for the 2004 Olympics, but that would have been another two years as an amateur and I didn't want to wait. My style of boxing's better suited to pro. Amateur's quite tactical with scoring whereas with pro, every punch counts. It's breaking them down and hurting them. I started in the same team as David Tua. We lived in the same house in Las Vegas for a year before it all fell apart with him and Kevin Barry. I got a contract with the Warriors CEO Mick Watson. Through him I got to train with Mike Tyson in Phoenix Arizona for three weeks. That gave me the confidence to know I can go all the way.
4 What was the hardest moment of your career?
Losing to David Tua in 'The Fight of the Century'. The build-up was huge. It captured the whole country. I believed I could win. I was ranked higher at number six. David wasn't ranked but he was favourite because he'd been around longer, had more fights, knocked out more guys. He was one of the biggest punchers in the heavyweight division at the time. He just caught me with a good punch and the rest was history. I was devastated that I didn't get to show what I was capable of. But David, credit to the man, we're friends now. He's very talented and a good fella.
5 What did you learn about failure?
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My manager told me a saying after my first loss that I didn't really understand until later on; 'It's not how you fall, it's how you rise'. That's what builds character and strength. People respect you more. It's no different in business or whatever you do. I came back and fought for a world title three years later. I didn't win it, I lost on points after 12 rounds, but I wouldn't change nothing.
6 You own your own fitness centre, events company and boxing gear brand. What have you learnt about business?
I'm guilty of saying yes to a lot of things. Then I'm spread too thin and struggle to do them all. I've got to focus on developing the things right in front of me to their full potential. I'm starting to reap the benefits of that with my boxing gear range Counterpunch, just spending more time with the brand. Same with my Fight Nights, I do three shows a year on Sky. I also manage a couple of boxers, train trainers, speak at events. My partner Casey runs the gym way better than what I did.
7 When have you been embarrassed?
I hate getting embarrassed. Dancing with the Stars is the furthest I've gone outside my comfort zone. I could never dance and still can't. I trained hard out for it, put in all the hours possible, left no stone unturned. Some of the dances were more enjoyable than others. There were moments I had fun, but not much. It was a good challenge.
8 Why did you agree to go on Celebrity Treasure Island?
I enjoyed watching back when Matthew Ridge, Marc Ellis, and Lana Cocroft were on it, so thought I'd give it a go. The food factor was hardest. I'm used to eating every three hours; over there I didn't eat for four days. But the body just adapts - no point moaning about it. What I loved most was meeting people you wouldn't normally cross paths with. After the show I organized a training session here so we could catch up. Barbara Kendall came, Athena Angelou, Zac Guildford, Sam Wallace and Karl Burnett. It was really cool. I've kept in touch with Gary Freeman too.
9 When are you happiest?
When I'm with my kids. Doing fun things - whatever they want to do. My boy lives in Tauranga with my ex-wife. He's 5 and loves kicking a ball around. He's very talented, strong and caring. My daughter's in Palmerston North. She's 14 and loves her horses. She's a cool girl; good to be around, very level-headed. I also love going back home to Tiniroto, hunting and catching with my brothers. I only get back there a few times a year.
10 What have you learned about love?
Relationships are like a business in some respects, you've got to work hard at them. Nothing comes easy. I've been guilty of taking my partners for granted. I was pretty selfish during my professional career, but that period is very short and if I hadn't been, I wouldn't have achieved the things that I did.
11 Is Joseph Parker the best boxer New Zealand has ever had?
I think David Tua's probably the best fighter that we've had. Joseph has achieved what David and I couldn't – he won a world title. But everybody has their own era. David fought some very, very good fighters and beat a lot of ex-world champions. I'm in the mix there but if I was to be picky, I'd put Dave ahead.
12 What's your legacy in the sport?
I created my own legacy by the style of fighting that I had. I'm gutsy. I never take a backwards step. I never bow down to a challenge. When I fight there's always going to be blood and guts. I won New Zealand's first Commonwealth boxing title for 36 years and was the first heavyweight to win the Jamieson belt for most scientific boxer. There's still a lot I want to achieve in the boxing world. Mostly I just want to be remembered for being a good bastard.
• Celebrity Treasure Island starts this Sunday 18 August, TVNZ2 and On Demand.