Boxers are creatures of habit. Jersey Joe Walcott never failed to have a miniature horseshoe tucked away in his breech coat. John L Sullivan always wore a pair of green trunks and Tim Bradley doesn’t take a shower a week before a fight.
Sam Nicol is no different and explains his unique and deeply personal inclination.
“I tuck grandma’s handkerchief inside my boot. It’s something I started last year after she died of cancer. Shayne was always carrying a hanky so it’s my way of remembering her,” Nicol reveals.
“I keep the handkerchief in a safe in my room. I forgot to take it with me to a fight in Auckland earlier this year. It’s the only fight I have lost since I started putting the handkerchief in my boot,” he continued.
Nicol will be taking his handkerchief and fists to the Oceania Youth Championships in Samoa in late May.
Nicol has been selected in the Youth New Zealand team in the Bantamweight 56kg weight class. The competition represents a major step up for the Year 12 student at Napier Boys’ High School.
“I’m really pleased to be selected. A lot of hard work is involved and I’ll try and learn as much as I can in Samoa,” Nicol enthuses.
Nicol will miss the North Island Golden Gloves in Taupo to travel aboard.
Nicol is the New Zealand Junior Flyweight (52kg) champion. In September last year, Nicol won a unanimous decision over Saxon Ferris, of Nelson, in a 3 x 2-minute round bout. In Samoa Nicol will fight 3 x 3 minute rounds.
“I was real nervous before the fight, but early on I managed to get a few standing eight counts and that boosted my confidence. It was an emotional victory soon after my nanna died,” Nicol reflects.
It was his second national title after he won the Junior 47kg class unopposed in 2016. Finding decent opposition is a constant challenge. Nicol has fought 35 times making his debut in Wairoa and traveling to Hamilton, Rotorua, Palmerston North, Auckland and Australia among other places in pursuit of quality adversaries.
“My coach organises all my fights and he [Craig McDougall, Hastings Giants Boxing Academy] does a great job, but it would be nice to be able to fight locally more often,” Nicol reveals.
Nicol channels his restlessness with a strict daily routine. He trains twice a day, rising at 5:30am. Additionally he holds down a part time job at Pak'n Save, enjoys cooking for himself, and comfortably passed NCEA Level 1 last year.
“I want to inspire others by showing them what hard work can achieve. I love boxing. There is nowhere to hide. It teaches discipline in and out of the ring,” Nicol concludes.
Interestingly Sam was formerly coached by his grandfather Malcolm Nicol, of Palmerston North Boxing Club. Malcolm has been has been involved with the code all his life and in 1963 famously beat the great Billy Graham in an age group bout.
Follow Sam’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Sam-Nicol-Boxing-1474064036175498/
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand