by Neil Reid (Sunday News)
HARDMEN of West Coast rugby and league are putting their bodies and reputations on the line for charity.
Some of the province’s biggest sporting names will step into the ring in Greymouth on May 11 to raise funds for West Coast @ Heart. The charity supports Kiwi children and families affected by congenital heart disease.
The Seaside Showdown is being organised by Alan Monk, who is the captain of the West Coast rugby team and the publican of Greymouth’s Paroa Hotel.
The charity boxers will include Monk’s West Coast team-mate Brad Houston, regarded by opponents as one of the toughest competitors in the Heartland Championship.
“He is feared amongst the rugby community, but boxing will be interesting for him. He knows he is dominant on the rugby field, but in boxing both him and his opponent will be equally [out oftheir sporting comfort zone] . . . it is going to be two guys in the ring with the referee.”
Houston will take on former West Coast rugby rep Jeremy Muir, a tough-as-teak forward for the Hokitika-based Kiwi Rugby Club. “I would say Jeremy would be equal to the challenge of Brad . . . it will be a real good challenge,” Monk said.
Muir showed his heroics off the field, as well, when in 2010 he saved 23 sheep from drowning in a flood at his family farm at Kaniere, near Hokitika. Muir jumped into 3-metre floodwaters to shepherd his flock to safety, holding one distressed sheep’s head above the water in the rescue.
Monk said Houston had extra motivation in his bout with Muir. “His old man is coming along and [Brad] told me he doesn’t want to get knocked out in front of his old man,” he said.
Tere Wycliff, another enforcer in the West Coast rugby team’s pack, will also take part in the charity fight night, taking on former provincial rugby hero and champion boxer Gavin Forsyth.
Another wellknown Coaster on the fight card is league player James Ward, a member of the New Zealand Rugby League’s 2012 Residents 13, Other bouts feature members of the WestCoast business community, including radio DJ Phil Lemon.
The night will also feature a women’s bout, with Greymouth pharmacist Lindy Mason, who has 10 years kickboxing experience, taking on sports instructor and multi-sport competitor Bree Cumming.
With two months still to go till the event, it is already proving a knockout success.
After the initial 450 tickets were snapped up within 12 hours, Monk transferred the fight night from a marquee in the car park of the Paroa Hotel and Motel to undercover in the grounds of the nearby Paroa School.
Monk, who is still looking for 2 naming rights sponsor for the event was inspired to put it on after learning about West Coast @ Heart from guests staying in his family’s popular establishment.
“I had always thought that it would be great to have a boxing event such as The Seaside Show down in Greymouth and thought West Coast @ Heart would be a great cause’ he said.
Monk said the Seaside Showdown was also providing Coaster a with a much needed morale boost.
More than 220 people lost their jobs at the Spring Creek mine wher it was mothballed by Solid Energy late last year. About 130 contractors also lost contracts.
The financial impact of the mine’s closure was felt throughout the West Coast economy.
“There is a real buzz around town,” Monk said. “It’s [the fight night] given something for people to look forward to…. we’re trying to make it as big a community event as we can by using local people as much as we can.“
http://paroa.co.nz or ph 03 762 6860