Kyle Chen won a gold medal in the 63kg Cadet Male Division at the 2014 New Zealand Boxing Championships, in Queenstown last weekend.
The 13-year-old Kerikeri High School student's path to the national title saw him outclass two-time NZ champion Maxwell Reti-Huch in the semi-final and following up this dominating performance by overwhelming Ethan Bray (representing Canterbury), a South Island Golden Gloves title holder and NZ Golden Gloves runner-up, in similar fashion in the final of the division.
It appears the young Kaeo Boxing Gym fighter has no shortage of confidence or ambition. At the first training session at the beginning of this year, having just returned from the Christmas holidays, he was asked by trainer Rusty Porter what his goals were for 2014. Without hesitation, Chen reportedly answered, "The nationals." Thus, as one commentator noted, mission accomplished.
The latest result was the fifth title Chen has won in the 63kg male cadet and 63 male cadet open classes this year including the North Island Novice Championship, North Island Golden Gloves, Central North Island Championships and Auckland Boxing Championships.
Chen fought out of the Auckland Boxing Association (ABA) team at the event, alongside Kaeo Boxing Gym stablemate Blake Hodges. Seventeen-year-old Hodges, also a Keri High student, won his preliminary bout but was defeated in the semi-finals by the eventual title winner, defending champion Ryan Scaife from Wellington.
The pair were part of a strong Northland presence - two boys and two girls - in the Auckland team, which won five gold and one silver medal at the championships. The other Northland fighters to win gold medals were 18-year-old Deanne Carpenter (Whangarei Boxing) in the 69kg female elite division, her fifth consecutive title at the event; and Magan Maka, a NZ Commonwealth Games female boxing rep, who took out in the 64kg female elite division to add to numerous titles across various weight divisions won at the nationals in previous years.
In addition, the Auckland team was managed by Fili Maka (Magan's father) and coached by Tim Bowman, who both hail from Whangarei. Back home earlier this week, Bowman said the team flew down to Queenstown together, which was made possible by the Auckland Boxing Association.
"It was a great trip. It [everything] was fantastic," he said, adding of the team: "They're all great kids."
The New Zealand Boxing Championships were hosted by the Otago Boxing Association in Queenstown from Wednesday to Saturday, October 8-11 and attracted around 158 of the top New Zealand boxers from around the country including Commonwealth Games gold medallist David Nyika (it was noted all nine of the Commonwealth Games boxing team were at the event, although not all competed).
David Tua was a special guest on both Friday night (when the cadet and junior finals were boxed for) and Saturday (when the youth and elite finals took place).
Kyle Chen's bout in the final vs Ethan Bray (representing Canterbury, Blue) can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTST2fsmpb0