Foxton's Titus O'Donnell was awarded his Golden Gloves in the under 69kg category in the recent North Island boxing championships.
He became interested in boxing after trying various martial arts and not enjoying them. His brother had won a boxing fight and Titus was keen to have a go.
He joined the Kiwi Boxing Club in Palmerston North six months ago, with coach Dean Minchin and trained five days a week. He went for a run on Saturdays and Sunday was his only day of rest.
Titus describes his coach Dean as such a great character. "He sings along to music videos while we train; he shouts, he laughs with you. He modifies his training to every person he trains. He is really good teacher."
Training is at the Kiwi Boxing Club which Minchin made in his backyard, initially for his sons. It has been a family passion for many years starting with Minchin's father and uncle. "I grew up seeing all these boxing cups. I got my first belt at eight years old."
He says boxing teaches young people great skills, builds confidence and courage, develops discipline, releases endorphins and frustrations. "You also have to be incredibly fit to box competitively."
Minchin first met Titus as a young boy. "He was high up in a tree. The wee thing had no fear. I have never forgotten it. At the time I thought, that boy is a bit of a gun. I didn't see him for years until I got a call a six months ago from him saying he wanted to box in the ring, as soon as he could."
They got together to make a training plan. Titus has since achieved four belts, two at championship level, and then his Golden Gloves last weekend. "He is an exceptional character, courageous and fearless, with huge potential."
Titus graduated from Longburn College this year and is working as a burrito maker at Gracias in Palmerston North – "Best burritos around" Titus maintains. He is going to carry on with his boxing training and see where it takes him.
Minchin also celebrated another win last weekend. His 12-year-old son William Minchin was awarded his Golden Gloves in the under 44kg cadet novice category.
After boxing competitively for a year or so, William told his father that he didn't want to go to tournaments every weekend, he wanted to stay at home. "No problem, I said."
William continued to train twice a week on club nights, Tuesday and Thursday but did not compete. After three months he was asking "Dad, when I am going back in the ring again?" Minchin reminded his son he had asked to have his weekends free. "I am over that," replied William.
The Golden Gloves are international amateur boxing awards for youth. The Kiwi Boxing Club is based in Palmerston North and hold twice weekly club nights for juniors and seniors. https://www.facebook.com/kiwiboxingclub