This month I would like to briefly comment on two outstanding Kiwi athletes. Both of whom I have the utmost respect for as sportspeople and New Zealanders.
A Left Hook
Who didn’t get caught up in “The Hype of the Century”? As a long time boxing fan I was really looking forward to this fight. I like Shane Cameron, and have been watching his emerging career with a lot of interest. He’s tough, but has a real coolness about him. I was really surprised though when he “called out” David Tua, the way he did. It reminded me just a little of the way Evander Holyfield did the same to Mike Tyson years ago. A lot of people don’t know how hard Holyfield had been chasing Tyson before he finally battered him to the ground… He put full page ads in boxing magazines bravely challenging Iron Mike to give him a shot at the titles. Some of the ads were just a close up of Evanders face and the words..“C’mon Mike….give me a shot!” or something similar. Bearing in mind that at the time, Holyfield was only a Cruiserweight…. yup..thats right…a Cruiserweight. So when I heard what was being directed at my all time fave, The Tuaman (or is it Terminator or the Tuaminator?) from Camerons camp, it got me excited. Maybe not The Fight of the Century…(Pacquiao vs Mayweather could have that label though) but nonetheless a very interesting bout for a number of obvious reasons. How good is Cameron? Is Tua still a very dangerous man? What shape will he be in? But the question that stood out for me (and probably many other boxing fans) was….Will Cameron survive the first few rounds? Well we all know what happened predictably in the end and it was as brutal a beating as I have ever seen… David Tua is quite simply an outstanding athlete and a man to be admired, respected…and feared. This was evident at the Westshore Pub (where Emma and I watched, proudly wearing my personally autographed, now faded, Tuaman T-shirt) also as to my surprise…Tua was by far the crowd favorite. Lennox Lewis trainer, the great Emanuel Steward said that he expected Lewis “to be fighting for his life” against Tua and that he had never seen him so nervous before a fight. Tua took a beating that day from a great champion. But that was then and this is now and from what I saw that night, and on Camerons face, Tua still has plenty to offer the floundering Heavyweight Division. Good on you David Tua! I would rather see him get another shot at a World Title than any rugby/cricket World Cup victory.
A Left Turn
Lap after lap, race after race, season after season, Scott Dixon is the truth. The guy just oozes ability, professionalism and class. As an ex race car driver, I have always cast a critical eye over our motoring exports and Scott Dixon never lets himself, his team or his country down. I was really disappointed that he just missed out on defending his IndyCar title and in motor racing, second place can sometimes feel worse than coming last. Though Im sure he was stoked for his team and team mate, Scotsman Dario Franchitti who won the title in a last race showdown. Its easy to see why team owner Chip Ganassi rates Scott so highly and has kept him on the Target Team longer than any other driver in team history. Congratulations on the seasons racing Scott and hard luck on just missing the championship, but history tells us that he will be back in contention next year…and the year after that.
Scott Dixon and David Tua are not who some people would think of when the word “athlete” was mentioned, but in my opinion, they both epitomize the spirit and the attitude that we like to see in our Kiwi sportspeople. Both have been world class, both are still striving and may still have their defining career moments to come and both have very good reputations as decent people despite the fact that in competing in their chosen sport, they really do risk their lives and their futures. Many sportspeople who have nowhere near the same requirements of attitude and intensity fall way short of the standards that these two guys exhibit every day. Funny thing is though, that as Kiwis, we kind of expect our athletes to be just like Scott and David. Aggressive and unrelenting on the sports field, but humble off it. Its a great combination….