National | Boxing

Boxing legend involves rangatahi to receive prestigious honour

New Zealand boxing legend Daniella Smith, hailing from Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāpuhi, is set to create history this year as she becomes the first Māori woman to be inducted into the International Women's Boxing Hall of Fame. She'll also be only the second woman from Australasia to receive this prestigious honour.

Smith says receiving this award would not be possible without the support of her Kaikohe community.

“When somebody achieves something on an international scale or prestigious scale, it's not just yours, it's everyone's and it's important that you share in that celebration.”

She will be taking a group of rangatahi and their mums over to Las Vegas at the end of the year on a two-week self-funded trip.

"It's quite beautiful that they will be coming with me to Vegass, for the inductions. And their mum that I went to school with - So it's kind of a round circle for me."

In 1999, Smith embarked on her boxing journey at a time when women faced significant hurdles to enter boxing gyms. She recalls the resistance encountered, as many gyms would turn women away.

Women barred

"I will never forget I had a couple of them say to me, 'Okay, women shouldn't box but you can, you've got skills.' But it wasn't true! Other women did have the ability; they were simply barred from pursuing that path."

In 2010, Smith shocked the world by winning the IBF Women's Welterweight title in Germany, a victory that defied expectations. While she entered the bout with the intention of winning, she certainly left a lasting impression on the Germans that day.

Having spent 26 years away from Kaikohe, Smith has returned to her hometown and is actively involved in running rehabilitation programmes both in Ngāwha prison and within the community.

She recognises the significance of paving the way for future generations and takes pride in inspiring other wāhine to pursue their dreams by showcasing what is possible.

Smith's induction into the Hall of Fame is scheduled for October of this year, marking a momentous occasion in her remarkable career.