Being bloodied and battered at Mountain Scene’s Thriller in the Chiller hasn’t put gutsy Queenstowner Lee Exell off boxing.
The 30-year-old was pummelled by Scott Winter, 25, during the rousing final bout of the sell-out Winter Festival fight night in June.
But rather than hanging up his gloves, 11 weeks on, Exell is one of the Thriller contenders who still slog it out in early morning gym sessions.
Eighteen granite-jawed locals trained three mornings a week for four months before the local match-ups – and about half still show for dawn boxing lessons on Mondays at the Events Centre.
Queenstown Boxing Gym trainer Darryl Giddens, who put the fighters through their paces before Thriller, says keeping the pounds off and staying fit is the key attraction.
“I’d say 70 per cent will be coming back to my classes. We [cover the boxing] basics properly and then we hammer them with the fitness – and that combination is what they come back for,” Giddens says.
Exell lost to stonemason Winter on a technical knockout at Thriller – but says he’s working on his skills.
“Being bashed around the ring didn’t deter me,” Exell, a local electrician, says.
Exell dropped about 12kg prior to the bout and claims other workouts don’t compare.
“I do football training for two hours, but an hour of this and you know you’ve done it.”
Fellow contender Albert Voschezang, 50, also intends to keep off the 6kg he shred pre-Thriller.
“I thought I was fit before, but it wasn’t until I got into boxing I realised how much fitter you can get. I probably haven’t been this fit since I was half my age. I never used to do running for about 10 years and now I go a couple of times a week.”