Queenstown boxer Richie Hadlow has overcome injuries to win his first international title.
The 29-year-old won the Oceania Boxing Federation’s light welterweight title on Australia’s Gold Coast last week.
The result moves the three-time New Zealand title-holder one step closer to selection for the Common-wealth Games next April, which will also be held on the Gold Coast.
Hadlow knocked out Tongan Fineasi Tuipolutu – the second time he’s knocked him out this year – in their semi-final last Wednesday
He boxed Colan Caleb, of Nauru, in the final the following day.
Proud coach Stewart Mitchell says: “Richie landed a couple of big punches throughout the fight and boxed well on the outside whilst slipping punches coming back at him.
“Richie won unanimously, even though he had a point deducted for a low head, which showed his dominance in a tough but conclusive performance.”
It’s Hadlow’s biggest sporting achievement. He says: “It was a proud moment standing on the podium and hearing the national anthem.”
He’s grateful to his supporters, family and friends for sticking with him.
Mitchell says his Fight Science Amateur Boxing Club can also be proud of Hadlow’s gold medal “as we all contribute to each other’s success”.
He also singles out Neki Patel and his Queenstown Health team and sports scientist Ed Baranowski for getting Hadlow back on track.
Club sponsors Jonathan Gurnsey, Lee Exell and Simon Green also get plaudits.
Mitchell says the past nine months have been frustrating.
Because of Hadlow’s hand and knee injuries, he’s only been able to commit 100 per cent to training for the past five weeks.
“Richie therefore is not in peak condition yet, and that will come as the year progresses.”
Hadlow’s win last week qualifies him for the world champs in Germany in August/September.
However Mitchell says Boxing NZ may instead send him to a different international tournament, in Taiwan, as it’s a better development opportunity.
Meantime, Hadlow will compete in the Southland champs in Invercargill on July 15, along with four other Fight Science fighters.