Central North Island Boxing Club owner Rex Jenkins has been in the game for 45 years and his current batch of young stars have the potential to be his best yet.

It is a modest set-up, based out of his own garage on Ford Rd in Rotorua, but it is a formula that works, having produced 74 national titles in those 45 years.

Four of those titles came at the 116th Boxing New Zealand National Championships, held in Christchurch two weeks ago. All four were defending champions from the year before.

Kevin Hay, 12, had the toughest road to the final with three bouts in the 48kg cadet division. He beat Josh Tonga, of Canterbury, and Connor Anderson, of Manawatu, by unanimous decision. In the final he won by split decision against Auckland's Omid Azizi to successfully defend his title.


Kahu Rangiawha, 12, won gold in the 42kg cadet division. He beat Taumarunui's Dayton Kawau by unanimous decision in a straight final.

Kahu's sister Naturelle Rangiawha won gold in the 50kg cadet division. She beat Manawatu's Amber Foot by unanimous decision in a straight final.

Maea Hay, 14, retained the national title she won last year and the year before as she was unopposed in her division. There is no doubt she would have been a force to be reckoned with, however, as she beat 18-year-old Te Mania Shelford at the Central North Island Championships a month ago. Shelford is currently competing at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.

The club also had Dylan White, Emile Richardson and Cooper White in action at the national championships. If Cooper had won his semifinal he would have gone up against Kevin in the final.

Jenkins said it was "great" to see such young boxers go back and win their second national titles.

"It shows the first time wasn't a fluke, they had to work for them this time - Kevin had three fights and they were all hard fights. He listened and boxed to our plan, which shows maturity.

"You sort work out a fight plan and he stuck to that for three fights. The final was close, according to the judges, but I didn't think it was that close. The other two, he completely outboxed them."

He said Kahu boxed "scientifically".


"He won most scientific boxer at nationals last year and he was chasing it again.

"These kids have put in a lot of work, leading up to it they trained three or four times a week, but all through the year they have worked hard. There's a lot of travelling at times, to different tournaments, but they've handled it well."

All of the kids had been with Jenkins for two to three years now and he said they had all grown as people as well as boxers.

"I had a feeling they would be good kids, they had a lot of potential when they were young, and they're living up to that. They're slowly that they're getting more and more mature with what they are doing.

"They certainly learn discipline through boxing, that's our number one priority. If kids haven't got discipline, they're never going to make it as a boxer. That probably applies to a lot of sports and to life. It teaches them to grow up and be good, humble young people."

Kevin's sporting talents extend beyond the boxing ring. He travelled straight from the national championships in Christchurch to compete in the Hatch Cup with the Bay of Plenty under-13 hockey team in Nelson. They won the bronze medal.