Weekend Sun   

Sideline Sid
Sports correspondent & historian
www.sunlive.co.nz

Kiwi heavyweight boxer David Nyika is entitled to be ranked as one of the best amateur boxers ever produced in our country, since the coming of order in the New Zealand pugilistic ranks in 1902. 

Last Saturday, David Nyika became the first New Zealand boxer to win two Commonwealth Games Gold Medals, after giving his Australian opponent a boxing lesson.

In the opening stanza, Nyika soaked up all the Aussie could throw at him before unleashing in the last two rounds, with the five judges declaring the Kiwi a unanimous winner. 

A measure of where Nyika stands in the annuals of the sport in our country is that New Zealand has won just seven Commonwealth Games Gold Medals, with two belonging to the Waikato boxer.

Heavyweight Frank Creagh opened the New Zealand Gold Medal ledger in Auckland in 1950, with a 12 year wait before Wellington Welterweight Wally Coe followed suit in Perth, Australia. 

Two further Heavyweight Gold medallions were won by Bill Kini (1966) and Jimmy Peau (1986), with Super Heavyweight Michael Kenny successful at the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games.

A 24 year drought ended in Glasgow in 2014, when David Nyika won the Light Heavyweight crown. 

Perusal of the New Zealand Amateur Heavyweight titles since the first New Zealand Boxing Championships were contested in Christchurch in 1902, reveals an unrivalled role of honour.  

Bill Kini annexed a silver medal at the 1962 Commonwealth Games, before going one better at the 1966 Games in Kingston Jamica.

After a first round walkover, Kini went onto defeat D McAlinden (Northern Ireland) in the semi’s and A Ray (Ghana) for the gold medal prize.

Another New Zealand Heavyweight boxer to make it on the world stage was Jimmy Peau.

Trained by Gerry Preston in Otahuhu, Peau made his mark internationally in the amateur ranks.

Three National Heavyweight and one Super Heavyweight crown were just part of a record that included 88 wins from 97 contests.

Commonwealth Games Gold in 1986 was the highlight of his amateur career before turning professional. 

In a long professional career Peau, who fought in the cash ranks as Jimmy Thunder, won two minor versions (WBF and IBO) of the World Heavyweight crown and was ranked as high as number five by the WBC.

David Tua won New Zealand’s first medal at the World Championship, with a bronze in the heavyweight division in Sydney during 1991.

After taking care of a Swedish boxer, David drew the legendary Cuban Felix Savon.

Giving away eight inches in height and reach, David took the fight to the Cuban, before an overhand right put the Kiwi fighter on the deck, with the referee then stopping the contest.

David also won a bronze medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, before embarking on his illustrious professional career. 

Shane Cameron became the first boxer over the middleweight limit to win the Jameson Belt, when he annexed the Heavyweight title at the 2001 New Zealand Championships.

A bronze medallion in Manchester at the 2002 Commonwealth preceded his sterling professional boxing journey.   

Right now, David Nyika is at the crossroads of his boxing career.

Should he remain in the amateur ranks, to chase Olympic Gold in Tokyo in two years time through the difficult Asia-Oceania qualification route, or does he follow David Tua, Shane Cameron and Joseph Parker to seek fame and glory in the professional ranks – only time will tell which is the right decision.

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