It is time to glove up for Thriller

Ali Vasarri, left, and Stanley Simpson-Wells with the chosen 16 others PHOTOS: JAMES ALLAN PHOTOGRAPHY

As 18 boxers prepare for charity boxing event Thriller, Louise Scott hooks a natter with two of them.

It is seconds out for the battle of the strip club bosses at this year’s Thriller.

Stanley Simpson-Wells and Ali Vasarri face-off in November’s Queenstown charity boxing extravaganza.

They’re among 18 committed contenders selected from 52 in a gruelling six-week bootcamp. Last Friday they found out they’d made the cut.

English lass Simpson-Wells, 29, looks after The Club on Church Street. German Vasarri, 25, is in charge down the road at Club 88.

Simpson-Wells, who used to dance, is stoked with her fight night opponent.

“It felt really good. We work in the same industry, pretty much the same job, so I feel that Ali will understand everything I’m feeling. We will be going through the same struggles.”

She thinks their career choice will also help on the night – as the concept is similar.

“The lights and performances – it is like a show. You are used to people watching you and heckling,” she laughs.

But the pair haven’t let a boozy work environment impact training.

Thriller coach: Steve Orr

Strict Thriller rules mean all contenders can’t touch a drop.

“You do the same things just slightly differently. So when everyone has a shot together I have a shot of cranberry juice. It is still social, you are with everyone and you are having fun, you start to realise you never needed that shot of tequila.”

Vasarri says the toughest challenge has been getting enough kip.

Unlike their day-worker counterparts the duo hit training as soon as they finish at 4 or 5am.

“You have to make yourself sleep during the day because of the training. I always love doing things with my day normally, but you need to rest as you have to start work at 8pm – then more training.”

That was four mornings each week, starting at 6am.

Now they’ve been selected that will be upped to include evening sessions.

Simpson-Wells has never been so muscly and Vasarri is fitter than ever.

Training, with head coach Steve Orr, has been tough. Body weight exercises, boxing-based fitness work like punching with push-ups or squats in-between, bag work, shuffle sprints and sparring sessions from week three.

While the pair are chuffed to get through, they put in the necessary hard yards.

Vasarri: “I’ve put in a lot of effort but it is still a surprise because you always put yourself down and don’t give yourself enough credit.”

The line-up includes Irish, Brits, a Canadian and Aussies amongst Kiwi contenders.

There was more focus on fitness this year.

Orr says it was disappointing some didn’t do their homework on bootcamp. One guy rocked up in work boots, another threw up a curry on coach Simon Green’s shoes.

“It reaffirmed what I know. You can’t teach heart.

“The guys who made the cut stood out. You could just see their determination.”

He is gutted for a few who showed “drive and determination” but didn’t get a fight.

But he’s excited given what he’s already seen in sparring.

Thriller, November 25, Queenstown Events Centre. Tickets available from