Taking in Rome's many grand sights for the first time last week, after adding another notch to his boxing belt, one in particular resonated with David Nyika.

If the Colosseum walls could talk they would share stories of gladiator conquests and gruesome deaths.

Even today, amid the flood of tourists, there is an eerie feel.

Experiencing the magnificent arena Nyika drew inspiration as he reflected on his journey, one that began with his first fight aged 15.

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Nyika's first international bout came after just six fights, and the 23-year-old has since amassed 80 wins and nine losses.

It's an impressive record which makes it all the more remarkable his greatest boxing goal, that of reaching the Olympic Games, remains unfulfilled, to this point at least.

"It's like working towards my Colosseum," Nyika, the dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist, said this week.

This shapes as a defining year in Nyika's amateur career and he is clearly leaving nothing to chance before inevitably cashing in with the pro ranks.

This year he expects to have 15 to 20 fights, more than he is accustomed to, but all providing valuable experience as he builds for the AIBA men's World Championships, to be held in Russia in September, and Olympic qualifiers, provisionally set for next year.

2017 AIBA World Championships, Germany, quarterfinals men's heavyweight (91kg) Evgeny Tischenko (red Russia) v David Nyika (blue New Zealand). Photo / AIBA.
2017 AIBA World Championships, Germany, quarterfinals men's heavyweight (91kg) Evgeny Tischenko (red Russia) v David Nyika (blue New Zealand). Photo / AIBA.

Preparations for those headline events are beginning to ramp up.

As part of a month-long training camp with six elite New Zealand pugilists, Nyika claimed the heavyweight (91kg) class and boxer of the tournament at the prestigious Feliks Stamm international in Poland.

En route to the title he defeated a top-ranked Russian, an Indian admirer in the semifinal and hometown opponent, Tomasz Niedwiecki, in the final.

Emile Richardson, in the middleweight (75kg) class, also picked up silver after losing his final to a Swedish opponent.

Nyika and the team then shifted to the outskirts of Rome, where they stayed with the family of England-based New Zealand boxer Amy Adams.

In a sport that often struggles for funding in New Zealand, favours such as this are needed to secure proper preparation.

"It is tough but we're doing everything within our power and beyond to get to where we need to go which is aiming towards the Olympics."

In Rome, the four female boxers trained with the Italian national squad while Nyika enjoyed quality sparring against a professional cruiserweight before the team moved to Spain for the Boxam Valenciana event this weekend.

New Zealand heavyweight boxer David Nyika sports a new hair colour at the boxer's press conference at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Photo / Greg Bowker.
New Zealand heavyweight boxer David Nyika sports a new hair colour at the boxer's press conference at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Photo / Greg Bowker.

"It's these types of tournaments that have done New Zealand boxing a lot of good. We fight, we train, and then we fight again. We've then got plenty to work on and bring home so we can keep developing back at our home gyms.

"This has been a huge opportunity to develop as a team and individual athletes. Being out of your comfort zone is really important. In a sport like boxing you have to be able to adapt in different environments and situations so we're all striving.

"It's ideal moving towards Olympic qualification."

After Spain, Nyika will return home to train at Hit Fitness HQ in Hamilton, and in Cambridge under strength conditioning coach Shaun Patterson.

Nyika has targeted another tournament in Kazakhstan and a training camp with the Great Britain squad in Sheffield to ensure he is ready for the world champs, and in the best possible shape to qualify for next year's Tokyo Olympics.

"I've probably got more international bouts than I do domestic fights. I barely ever get fights at home anymore. It means I can focus on the bigger picture but it's also a bit of a pain that we have to travel so far to get good competition. We try to take the silver lining."

For now, continued uncertainty over Olympic qualification dates and requirements – whether Nyika will need to progress through Asia/Oceania or just the latter – must be pushed to one side.

New Zealand amateur heavyweight boxer David Nyika. 19 September 2017 New Zealand Herald Photograph by Jason Oxenham.
New Zealand amateur heavyweight boxer David Nyika. 19 September 2017 New Zealand Herald Photograph by Jason Oxenham.

As it stands boxing faces exclusion from the Games after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) launched an inquiry into possible match-fixing and governance issues with governing body, AIBA.

If that is not resolved, an alternative organisation may be set up to run the sport. Recommendations are expected to be delivered at an IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne on May 22.

"It's difficult to say at this stage because nothing is confirmed. It would be ideal for us if it went back to Oceania but at the end of the day we need to be able to beat the top guys."

As far as Nyika is concerned his Colosseum moment awaits.