Journey begins for our Winter Festival fighters

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Would-be boxers have taken their first punishing steps towards Queenstown’s annual fight night. 

More than 70 applied to participate in this year’s Thriller in the Chiller to be held during Winter Festival. 

After a gruelling selection weekend of fitness tests and basic boxing technique, 50 have gone forward to a five-week contender bootcamp. 

They began training before dark on Monday morning, competing for a limited number of places on an intense eight-week fighters’ camp which follows. 

Head trainer Steve Orr says: “The level of commitment and pure heart people showed over the weekend was amazing. And that is what we wanted to see. We know we can get people fit and confident and competent in the ring but you have to have the right attitude. 

“Our new training format this year also seems to be working well – we’re about a week ahead of usual. Selection weekend made a big difference.” 

Now in its fourth year, Mountain Scene’s Thriller in the Chiller sees local contenders from all walks of life step into the ring. The charity event will be held at Queenstown Events Centre on Saturday, June 29. 

Contender Aaron Spain, 27, says: “The weekend and first two sessions have been medium to tough. I’ve been training for it a bit fitness-wise but it’s still tough because it’s so different. I’m looking forward to the rest of the sessions; I’ve loved it so far,” he says. 

Event boss Simon Green can’t confirm how many fighter places are available but is expecting eight or nine bouts. 

“We need to retain flexibility as we want to give as many people as possible the chance to go through and first impressions after the weekend is there are some great potential match-ups amongst the group,” Green says. 

The event has raised more than $60,000 for charity in three years. 

Those groups interested in being the official charity for this year’s event can apply at www.winterfestival.co.nz 

Corporate tables are available at www.thrillerinthechiller.co.nz. Grandstand tickets will be released at the end of April.