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Wairoa’s Fight for Life in April delivered welcome entertainment and channeled much-needed funding into Wairoa Boxing Club and the Cyclone Gabrielle Wairoa Mayoral Relief Fund. It was a special night for Quality Roading and Services which sponsored four staff to fight. A month on, the QRS fighters reflect on their incredible journey into the ring.
Trent Zeilstra, Kingston Taulapapa, Arnold Smith, and Jared Spence, made the company proud, says chief executive Jeremy Harker. “I was impressed with their focus and fighting spirit while they played their part in raising money for a good cause.”
QRS site supervisor Arnold Smith has a lifelong connection to the club through his coach father Jamie Cox. Smith agreed to Fight for Life after playful ribbing from younger whānau who wanted to see him in the ring. He needed to prove he could train, spar, and entertain, but Smith reveals it wasn’t always easy. “I hated training but I lost a lot of weight and would feel good afterward.”
Operator Trent Zeilstra says Fight for Life was one of the best things he’s done. After losing weight last year he needed a new challenge. “I’ve tried kickboxing but have always wanted to get in the boxing ring. I just needed the push to do it.” During his bout, Zeilstra’s singlet bore the name of his godson who passed away last year. The loving gesture struck a chord with whānau and friends. “I walked out to a song that reminds us of him and it felt good to have him in my corner.”
To Zeilstra’s surprise, he came up against QRS staffer Kingston Taulapapa on the event’s fight card. The pair sparred during training but hadn’t anticipated the match-up. Construction labourer and concreter Kingston Taulapapa was the youngest QRS fighter at just 19. He signed up to Fight for Life after encouragement from colleagues and discovered he enjoyed the discipline of boxing. “My favourite part about the training camp has been improving my fitness, meeting new people, and developing my boxing skills.”
The QRS bout made for great viewing, and afterward, staff and whānau in the crowd stood to give Taulapapa and Zielstra an ovation. Zeilstra has the deepest respect for his young opponent. “Man, Kingston’s a good guy and it was special to be in the ring with him. I would totally do this again.”
QRS operator Jared Spence also stepped into the ring, and to no one’s surprise, loved every minute. Young and fit, the confident athlete rolled easily with the punches and listened to his coach when he needed to change tactics. “It’s a mean experience and the cause was a good one.” Spence is grateful to everyone who helped provide the opportunity to test himself. “Thanks to QRS for the sponsorship and for being able to sit my family on one of the tables.” Spence continues to incorporate boxing training into his weekly gym workouts.
Wairoa Boxing Club coach Jamie Cox cornered the blue corner and Moana Foster, a staff member at QRS, cornered the red. Event organiser Siobhan Storey, also works at QRS. “As coaches, we want to instill respect, discipline, and confidence in our young athletes. Boxing is a vehicle to achieve great things in all aspects of life and QRS helps us do that with its ongoing financial input and this year’s support for Fight for Life.”
With Fight for Life now over, the last word goes to QRS fighter Arnold Smith.
“It was amazing to see how much support QRS put into the event. I know most of those kids down there at the club and what they’re going through. It was a good night for everyone – a chance to forget for a moment what has happened in our town and get out and enjoy something.”
5 May 2023
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