When 17 year old boxer Rakai Kirkwood Junior steps into the ring in the Bahamas he’s looking forward to having his father, Rakai Kirkwood Senior, in his corner.
The under 64-KG division boxer is coached by his dad, who he’s named after.
“I’ve learned to differentiate between coach and Dad. It’ll be a big help to have him in my corner and it’ll be really special,” said Rakai Junior.
The Manukau Destiny School student trains twice a day, once before school and once after while still finding time to complete his studies. He’s been boxing since he was 9 and is excited to represent New Zealand and test his skills against some of the best fighters in the world at the Bahamas Commonwealth Youth Games.
“I’m very ready and confident, I’ve always been the best in New Zealand for my age and weight. It’s another opportunity to test what I’ve learnt and my skillset over there so I’m quite excited.”
Rakai is a four time national champion and a five time golden gloves champion. He enjoys the individual challenge presented by boxing.
“It’s a one on one thing, no one else steps into that ring with you it’s all on yourself, you can’t pass the ball to your teammate when you get tired. It’s basically just a physical chess match.”
Rakai senior started boxing at the same time as his son, both fell in love with the sport with Rakai senior now working as a regional development coach for Boxing New Zealand. He says going to the Bahamas with his son will be an amazing experience.
“Emotionally it is an awesome thing and it is quite an achievement. I’m very proud of my son and for us to get to do this together on the world stage is just amazing.”
Rakai Junior will compete as part of the New Zealand Team at the Commonwealth Youth Games held in the Bahamas from July 18th – 23rd.
About the Bahamas Commonwealth Youth Games:
A team of 34 talented young Kiwi athletes will represent New Zealand at the Games, taking on their Commonwealth counterparts between 18 – 23 July 2017. The team will be made up of eleven swimmers, eleven athletics representatives, three cyclists, five boxers and four beach volleyball players. The last Commonwealth Youth Games were held in Samoa in 2015 where New Zealand won 20 medals, made up of seven gold, eight silver and five bronze.
Up to 1300 athletes from around the world will be involved in the Games and will make the most of an inspiring and immersive mix of impactful sporting competition. The Games will allow for personal development in the athletes who will also be given the opportunity to form new Commonwealth friendships.
The Games will provide a performance pathway for the young New Zealand athletes and will also inspire them to future sporting and individual success.Bahamas 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games Rakai Kirkwood Rakai Kirkwood Boxing