Published Thursday 29 May 2014

Women’s boxing features at the Commonwealth Games for the very first time this July and two of New Zealand’s top female fighters will be there.

Olympian Alexis Pritchard will be joined by 20-year-old Magan Maka in a seven-strong boxing team  that also includes teenage super heavyweight Patrick Mailata (91+kg)  and Canterbury welterweight Bowyn Morgan (69kg). The team was named by the New Zealand Olympic Committee today. 

Pritchard, who finished fifth in the 60kg class at the London Olympic Games in 2012 and is ranked number two in the Commonwealth, says the inclusion of women’s fighting on the Commonwealth Games programme is a huge step for the sport.

“I feel really honoured and proud to be part of the first group of women making history,” she said on her selection today.

“Women have fought hard in the ring for many years and it is recognition of this. It’s an absolute positive for boxing in New Zealand and around the world.”

Pritchard added that the calibre of boxers at Glasgow will be high but a podium finish is in her sights.

“For me, Glasgow is about building on my experience in London. I learned a lot in that elite environment and now I want to keep moving forward and finish with a medal in Glasgow. “England’s Natasha Jonas who is the Commonwealth number one is the fighter to beat,” she added.

The oldest in the team at 30, Pritchard also hopes to offer support to the others named today, including Maka.

High Performance Director for Boxing New Zealand, Dr John McKay said the team is looking forward to some tough competition in Glasgow and the qualification process for this year’s Commonwealth Games means athletes are prepared.  

“Our athletes have had to work harder than ever to make the grade. It hasn’t been good enough for our athletes to be winning medals in Oceania, our requirements have been for them to be securing top finishes in international tournaments and they have been able to do this.”

Joining Mailata and Morgan who both secured gold medals at a tournament in Serbia also this year is Auckland University Student and Chinese language major David Light (91kg) as well as Chad Milnes (60kg) and Leroy Hindley (64kg).

The men’s team will head to Ireland in July for a ten-day training camp in mid-July while Pritchard and Maka will prepare at a three week camp in England, fighting against top competitors from around the Commonwealth.

Boxing opens at the Commonwealth Games on the 25thof July at the SECC venue with finals taking place on the 2nd of August. New Zealand has won 30 medals in Commonwealth Boxing including five gold medals, the last gold was won by Michael Kenny in the 91kg heavy weight class at the Auckland games in 1990.

The last medals won by New Zealand in boxing were two bronze medals at Manchester 2002 won in the 69kg men by Daniel Codling and the 91kg by Shane Cameron. Additional athletes may be selected to the boxing team pending results from this weekend’s Golden Gloves event in Taupo.    

More about New Zealand’s Boxing team for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games:

Alexis Pritchard – Women’s 60kg Lightweight – Age: 30 Birthplace: Capetown, South Africa Residence: Auckland.  Ranked 2nd in the Commonwealth, and 8th in the world. New Zealand 60kg champion for past four years.

Magan Maka – Women’s 75kg Middleweight – Age: 20 Birthplace: Auckland Residence: Wellsford. Gold medal Melbourne Expo International 2014, Silver medal Four Nations Auckland 2014.

Chad Milnes – Men’s 60kg Lightweight – Age: 22 Birthplace: Takapuna, Auckland Residence: North Shore, Auckland. Silver medal GeeBee 2014 in Helsinki, Finland, silver medal Taipei Cup 2013, Gold Medal Four Nations 2013, New Zealand.

Leroy Hindley – Men’s 64kg Light Welterweight – Age: 21 Birthplace: Capetown, South Africa Residence: Northshore Auckland. New Zealand national welterweight title 2013.

Bowyn Morgan – Men’s 69kg Welterweight – Age: 25 Birthplace: Waihi Residence: Christchurch. Gold medal Belgrade, Serbia 2014, bronze at GeeBee 2014, Helsinki, Finland.

David Light – Men’s 91kg Heavyweight – Age: 22 Birthplace: Takapuna, Auckland Residence: Auckland. Silver in Belgrade, Serbia 2014, Bronze at GeeBee 2014. 

Patrick Mailata – Men’s 91+kg Super Heavyweight – Age:19  Birthplace: Apia, Samoa Residence: Auckland. National super heavy weight champion for two years, gold medal at Belgrade, Serbia, bronze medal GeeBee, Helsinki, Finland.