Queenstown WinterFest charity boxer fighting in memory of mate

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A Queenstown Winter Festival charity boxer says his main motivation is paying tribute to a mate who died young.
Thriller in the Chiller fighter Adam Smart, boxing at the Events Centre tonight, says the event is a good way to acknowledge his late mate Russell Wood who was into boxing. 

Wood was 30 when he failed to negotiate a corner on his new motorbike back home in England. 

Smart, who works for skydive operation NZONE, says: “I’m doing it for the parents and brother of Russell, I’m doing it for them. 

“It really must be hard to have someone go that young. I couldn’t make it to his funeral. He’s one of my oldest mates. 

“It’s quite a good way for me to give him a nod…there’s no better way really.” 

Smart, who fights Base Contracting/Nevis Group-sponsored builder Russ ‘The Muss’ Hall, says he’d known Wood since he was five or six years old. 

Smart says Wood ended up getting into boxing: “We were well into drinking and going out partying. He decided to stop and I just carried on partying. He was always on at me, ‘C’mon Smarty, come on, come on’. And he even went and fought in Ireland a couple of times, and took me out running. 

“I wished I’d done it with him. Looking back that’s another reason why I wanted to do this. I’m sure he’ll be looking down on my when I’m getting punched in the face.” 

Smart adds: “It plays on my mind quite a bit, gets me psyched. Whenever they say we’re sparring, I take a quick walk and psych myself up and think about stuff like that.” 

Another Thriller fighter spurred on by the memory of a loved one is Dunedin’s Niel Louw, a late addition to the card. 

The 37-year-old area manager for Gough’s has been drafted in to take on Queenstown’s KM Smith Builders’ Sam ‘The Steam Train’ Frame. 

Frame was scheduled to fight Mountain Scene journalist Paul Taylor who reluctantly had to pull out two weeks ago after a concussion in sparring – it triggered a mandatory three-week stand-down. 

Louw, who had been training for a similar charity fight night in Dunedin, says the memory of his late father will be with him come fight night. 

“He died four years ago and I never had an opportunity to say goodbye to him,” Louw says. 

“He was a very big boxing fan and did a bit of amateur boxing as a young fella’. I always struggled to say goodbye to ‘Popps’, until this came along. 

“This will be my one opportunity to know about the sport he loved so much and to be close to him one last time and to say goodbye in a way that he would have been proud.” 

Louw is one of 20 charity fighters on the night – all local except for him – which raises money this year for Wakatipu High school camp backer the Branches Charitable Trust. 

Thriller director Simon Green, of The Main Event, says the goal is to raise more than $20,000 on the night for the cause – and $3500 has already been contributed from ticket sales. 

A silent auction will be held on the night plus a marquee auction midway through the night conducted by Hoamz’ Brendan Quill. Items include a priceless framed boxing glove signed by ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson. 

Just a handful of grandstand tickets were left early this week and it was likely only a limited number of door sales would be available.