Otago boxers wanting to take a swing in the ring will soon get the opportunity – and will support a new mental health initiative in the process.
Cromwell man Matt Edwards will host a charity boxing event in the town later in the year and is seeking people who are keen to train for the event.
Money raised from The Right Fight charity boxing event, an auction on the night and tiny house raffle, will go towards Mr Edwards’ newly launched charity, Lean On Me.
The charity will provide funds for mental health support and raise awareness of the challenges mental health issues can cause.
About 30 places are available for people wanting to take part in the initial charity boxing event training sessions.
The sessions will be designed to determine whether each person has what it takes to compete on the night.
“I thought, this is something that needs to be done.” – Matt Edwards
Between 10 and 12 people will be selected to go on to the contender stage, when they will be conditioned for the event and matched with people for the competitive stage.
Although participants would have to pay a training fee to the gym, sponsorship could be arranged for people once they were selected for the final event, which would take place on December 7, Mr Edwards said.
“It’s going to be for anyone who hasn’t had boxing experience,” Mr Edwards said.
“We want to make sure they are all on the same level and it’s going to be safe.”
A boxing commissioner had signed off the event and agreed to provide the referees and the ring to ensure everything was up to code, he said.
Mr Edwards, who has co-ordinated the event in conjunction with Damon Rolls, has created the charity on the back of his own mental health experiences.
“Since about [the age of] 15 I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression myself.
“I lived in Australia for 10 years – it really hit there because I was away from home.”
However, he met his wife, had two children and moved to Central Otago, which helped change things for the better, Mr Edwards said.
He also had a close family friend who suffered from mental illness.
It was at that point he decided he had to do something.
“I thought, this is something that needs to be done.”
Mr Edwards said Lean On Me funds would be made available to assist people who needed support, including counselling.
The money will help remove one of the key barriers people often faced – affordability.
He was not sure how much money the event would bring in, but “it’s more about what it’s for, not how much will be raised”.