The exploits of Mike Henare's famous brothers have been well documented over the years.

His oldest brother and former Hawke's Bay Unicorns and New Zealand Residents XIII rugby league winger Richard Henare was one of the fastest players in the English Super League in the mid 1990s.

Former Tall Blacks and Breakers basketballer Paul Henare, now head coach of both teams, is the most recognised of the whanau while another brother Jamie, like Paul is a former Hawk but also well known throughout Hawke's Bay for his feats on golf courses, pool tables and in a variety of card games.

Next week 31-year-old Henare will step out of his brothers' shadows and have his turn in the limelight when he fights Regan Spooner during the Battle for Life Charity Boxing event at the Hastings Sports Centre on September 9. It will be one of 14 fights on the card for the event which is fundraiser for suicide prevention awareness.


The last time Henare saw Spooner was during the late 1990s when Spooner, like most of Jamie and Paul's basketball teammates, used to spend plenty of time at the Henare whanau's Marewa home munching out on one of the many roast meals their mother Jan cooked for the numerous teams her sons were involved with.

"That was definitely the last time and I was only a young fellah. There's been no banter or texting in the countdown to next week's fight."

Henare wasn't prepared to say whether or not Spooner, a national title-winning coach and player with Hawke's Bay age group basketball teams, took more than his fair share of potatoes or meat back them. He obviously didn't want to fire him up but that's not to say he isn't approaching the eighth annual Battle for Life with a decent level of confidence.

"It will be my first boxing fight but I had a couple of amateur kickboxing bouts when I was living in Australia. They were over three three-minute rounds and I was definitely fit enough. Next week's fight is scheduled for three two-minute rounds so I'm confident I will be ready," Henare said.

A former basketballer like his brothers, Henare, also played junior rugby for the Napier Old Boys Marist and Napier Technical clubs before attending Napier Boys' High School and William Colenso College where he got keen on athletics. His sporting background and lawn mowing job should prove beneficial when he takes on Spooner.

"I've heard Regan is taller than me. My second kickboxing opponent who I beat was taller than me and I found that quite challenging. I lost my first kickboxing bout," Henare recalled.

He has spent three months training for next week's fight with Battle for Life organiser Pat O'Brien of The Lab Fitness Training Centre in Napier. With up to five gym sessions each week including intense boxing sessions on Tuesdays and Thursday plus some at the weekend is an indication how serious the fight is being treated.

"Pat keeps reminding I have to maintain the whanau's unbeaten record in the event," Henare said.

He was referring to Paul's win against former All Black Roger Randle in the 2011 edition of the event.

"Paul has given me a few pointers ... mainly to go in with a plan and stick to it and also stick to the basics."

For the first time in the history of the event it will include a kickboxing bout. Promising Hawke's Bay fighter Jimmy Pentland will take on Aucklander Mike Howard.

The card:
Michelle Johnson v Hinerangi Wilson
Janey Sene v Natasha Plimmer
Alan Labi v Dylan Perfect Tait
Ebeth Cawston v Elizabeth Ghio-Tuita
Wehi Margan Dunne v Tui Smith
Kane Turi v Kiriorea Maungaati
Jessie McLeod v Rosaline Dennis
Mike Henare v Regan Spooner
Teuila Nauer v Rebekah Keefe
Mischa Masters v Russell Pailate
Amanda Rossiter v Airini Gillies
Tom Robson v Faamasino Aiolupotea
Allan Lavea v Douglas Chapman
Jimmy Pentland v Mike Howard