For ex-Super 15 rugby player Kelvin Middleton, his Queenstown Winter Festival amateur boxing bout was the thrill of a lifetime.
“Bone crusher” Middleton, who beat Arrowtown rugby captain Aidan “The Assassin” Winter in the 2011 Thriller in the Chiller, says: “It was one of the scariest but thrilling things I’ve done in my life.
“She was one huge experience.”
As the hunt begins for 2013 Thriller contenders, Middleton says the rewards of training – running for 13 weeks in 2013 – and the night itself are far-reaching.
“Before I did Thriller I struggled running around with the kids on the lawn because after my rugby career I had back issues to the point where I had let things slide and it was just painful.
“I owe the training for Thriller so much. It made me realise if you don’t use it, you lose it, and I’d nearly lost it,” he says.
“It was my personal mission to get my body back on track but I got so many more rewards – meeting all the other fighters, let alone going in there one on one against another fighter which was a real buzz.”
Primary teacher Alice “Big Gun” Cannan, who fought last year, says: “It was a lot harder than I thought.
“It becomes all-consuming – what you think when you get up in the morning and when you go to bed at night. It was awesome – I’m trying to make everyone do it,” she says.
“It’s also a cool thing to look back on and say I did that. I’ve still been doing a wee bit of boxing, helping out sparring at the boot camps. It’s great to have something to offer and see people’s confidence improve.”
Organiser Simon Green says the Mountain Scene-sponsored charity event pits evenly-matched locals against each other in three two-minute rounds.
Green won’t be looking for the best or fittest boxers but those with the right attitude, dedication and potential.
The event, in its fourth year, will be at the Events Centre on June 29.
An information evening is on this coming Monday and fighter applications close March 15 – ahead of compulsory weekend qualifying on March 23 and 24.
A five-week bootcamp for 50 contenders starts March 25 – then 16 or 18 fighters will be chosen to progress to an eight-week training camp starting May 6.
Green says: “I can’t stress how important it is for anyone considering signing up that they do come to March 4.
It’s crucial they understand what it is all about right from the word go.”