Hawke's Bay teenager Reef Luxford took up boxing with the aim of keeping his fitness levels up for rugby.
"I remember when we first saw Reef around the gym four years ago. He impressed me as a talented young kid but because rugby was his main focus we didn't register him to fight until this year," Hastings Giants trainer Craig McDougall recalled.
Hastings Boys' High School under-14 rugby team openside flanker Luxford proved he is just as handy in the boxing ring as he is on the rugby field when he beat Napier's Arthur Baker with a RSC in the second round to capture the 63kg cadet male class title at the Hawke's Bay boxing championships staged in the Flaxmere Community Centre on Saturday. It was Luxford's second win from as many bouts.
"Perseverance was the key to the win because I got pretty tired. I'm not as fit as I would like to be," Luxford said.
"Rugby will always be my priority but I want to go as far as I can with my boxing and keep winning too," Luxford added.
The 2018 Hastings East Ross Shield rugby representative will miss the Hastings Giants boxing tournament in Hastings on September 7 as the Year 9 student will be in Palmerston North at his rugby team's Super 8 tournament where the side will be aiming for a third consecutive title.
Napier Boxing Club's Paul Tonga was jubilant after scoring a unanimous points win over Masterton's Griffin-Thomas Pauline to capture the elite men's novice 75kg title. It was his first win in four bouts during 18 months of boxing.
"All the hard training has paid off. It's a good feeling and it gives me a bit of motivation to carry on," 19-year-old apprentice builder Tonga said.
His trainer, Rocky Leutele, was just as delighted as Tonga but at the same time pointed out he was disappointed Tonga didn't receive the award for the most scientific senior boxer.
"Paul was unlucky as he was the only elite fighter to have a win but the organisers decided not to hand out the award," Leutele said.
Tonga's next bout is likely to be in Wellington on August 17.
McDougall was thrilled with the success of the championships which attracted more than 200 spectators.
"These champs were the result of a collaboration between all four Bay clubs - Flaxmere, Napier, Ruahapia and our Giants. We have formed a rejuvenated Hawke's Bay Boxing Association with Rod Langdon as chairman and these champs, which were the first for more than 20 years, were a great start for the association," McDougall said.
"It's great to see all the young fighters coming through," McDougall said.
He was proud of the manner in which Giants fighter Alexander Coull won the award for the most scientific junior despite his points loss to Feilding's Simbarasha Mashakada in their cadet male 44kg open class bout. McDougall was also impressed by the courage displayed by Giants clubmates Jack Harlen and Harvey Madden when they fought for the 40kg cadet male novice class title.
Harlen won this final with a points decision after earlier in the day beating Gisborne's Khadyn Kahukiwa with another points decision victory. Another Hastings Giants fighter, Josiah Robinson, did well to beat Kapiti's Henry Bovaird by a points decision to win the junior male 63kg class title.
Patrick Doole of the Hastings Giants beat Gisborne's Dann Larby by a unanimous points decision to capture the 54kg cadet male class title.
After the Giants tournament next month the Hawke's Bay association's focus will turn to the hosting of the October 1-5 national championships at the Hastings Sports Centre.