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Kaelan Boyce is an effervescent and friendly character who is often misunderstood. He suffers from ADHD and complains that bullying is the reason he got into boxing.
“My dad’s friend got me into boxing. I was being bullied and Dad and I agreed we had to do something about it so I started fighting,” Boyce says.
Kaelan has been a national champion in his weight class for the last three years. In 2012 he won the 40kg cadet class. In 2013 he was the 48kg cadet champion and last year he captured honours in the 50kg junior category.
Boyce made an inauspicious start as a pugilist.
“My first fight was on May 21, 2011 against Dalvin Cook in Gore. It was his sixth fight and my first. I was so nervous. It was so scary. I lost 11-8 and never wanted to fight again,” Boyce laments.
Boyce trains out of the Redwood Boxing club in Christchurch. He is coached by former New Zealand representative and senior amateur champion Julian Scully.
“Julian is the man. He has a huge knowledge of the sport and has done everything to help me,” Boyce acclaims.
After his original setback Boyce won 13 fights in a row. One rival brought out the best in Boyce.
“I was a replacement on one card, going up two weight classes. I won a split decision against this guy and his coach demanded a rematch. The next time I dropped him and his coach threw in the white towel,” Boyce recalls.
Going up in weight class is not an uncommon step for Boyce. He typically fights at around 52kg, but has been forced to face fighters 59kg and above in the purist of stiffer competition.
“My 20th fight is nicknamed wrestlemania. I got beaten by this beast who wanted to hug me the whole time.”
Boyce wasn’t restrained in this year’s South Island and North Island Golden Gloves. He won both titles and earned selection for the New Zealand Junior team to travel to Saint Petersburg in Russia for the Junior World Championships in September.
Fundraising for the event was an arduous task.
“I had to raise $7000 just to get there. I set up a Givealittle page, had a sausage sizzle at school – the Mad Butcher gave me 300 sausages. I held four raffles. I was really grateful for people’s generosity, it was huge,” he says.
The Junior World Championships is a huge event with 57 countries and 442 countries represented. The conditions weren’t always easy.
“The food was immaculate for the first couple of days, but it quickly went downhill from a ten to a minus one when all the teams arrived. There seemed to be a shortage of food and one morning I was served cornflakes with dead flies in it. I complained and they said the files are good protein.”
“The Russians weren’t happy at all. Their coaching staff nearly had a fight with the kitchen stuff when they complained about the quality of the food. I felt sorry for the Russians,” Boyce laughs.
Boyce’s first fight was no laughing matter. He drew a formidable Indian opponent.
“In sport you compare yourself with others and minutes before my fight I was looking at this bloke thinking, Jesus this is going to be tough. I knew he was tough and sure enough he was.”
“I lost the first two rounds, but it was close. In the third round I came out all guns blazing, but unfortunately I could not pull it back. I was gassed,” Boyce concedes.
Naturally disappointed, Boyce used the remainder of the trip to gain valuable experience. He sparred against fighters from Japan, England, Australia, Tonga and the Philippines, the Philippines opponent trained in the same gym as Manny Pacquiao. However the toughest assignment was containing the European champion from Albania.
“That guy hit like a rocket. One of my teammates got dropped and vomited afterwards”, Boyce says.
Boxing still doesn’t sit comfortably with Boyce’s Mum, but he has won 31 out of 41 fights and plans to carry on. As for the bullies they are no hassle anymore.