National | Boxing

IT Heavy Hitters donning the gloves for a cause

This weekend more than 30 people will jump in the boxing ring.  None of them are your average boxers- they're doing it for a cause.

Shane Vincent (Tūwharetoa) is one of those who will be taking part in the IT Heavy Hitters event in Auckland this weekend.  He says the group of fighters come from all walks of life, "we've got builders, we've got sparkies, we've got IT professionals, we've got people in the television industry."

The event will pitch two teams of boxers against one another.  For the better part of the past 14 weeks they have been training 3 times a week, with one team at Dan Hooker's Combat Academy and the other at City Kickboxing with Brad Riddell.

The event's aim is to raise funds for Mike King's Key To Life charity for mental health and suicide awareness. issues close to the hearts of these competitors.

"Mental health and suicide awareness across New Zealand needs a bigger profile," says Vincent, "I'd hazard a guess that there are not many families where that hasn't touched them.  For myself, it's been a real constant in my life over the years with friends and family so this is something small that I could do."

Mana Wikaire-Lewis, another boxer taking part agrees, "The stats in New Zealand for suicide and our young people are quite high and we want to get it down to zero and I will do all I can to help reach that goal."

One of the people who has been helping put the event, now in its 6th year, together, Nikora Lewis says the fighters' dedication and progress is inspirational.

"These people who are putting themselves in this ring, [it's] the most intimidating thing you can do, I think.  For me personally, watching these guys going from not being able to punch to what they're doing right now makes me really proud, really proud to be involved with it."

The group are constantly checking in on each other online and in person.  Vincent says that is one of the keys to life, talking to someone.

"You know a traditionally good Māori bro...they keep those feelings and those types of things inside, and that's not good, it's not healthy," he says.

Wikaire-Lewis says, "Though help is in front of us, whether we are reaching out or not, sometimes we're just a bit too whakamā to get that extra 'oomph' to actually say something.  I want people to start talking and to start discussing, and start now!"

A GiveALittle page has been set up for the event.  Doors open at Barfoot & Thompson Stadium, Kohimārama at 5.30pm, bouts are set to begin at 6.30pm.

Do you need to talk to someone?  Helplines are available:

Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email or online chat. – or email or free text 5626.

What's Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, midday–11pm and weekends, 3pm–11pm. Online chat is available from 5pm–11pm 7 days a week, including all public holidays.

Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age. Open 24/7.

National helplines

Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)

Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Healthline – 0800 611 116

Samaritans – 0800 726 666