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20 December 2016

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Flying the flag for rowing and boxing

Flying the flag for rowing and boxing

While boxing and rowing may seem poles apart, the skills required are surprisingly similar, says Ivan Pavich.

Ivan (School 2005-2009) represented New Zealand as a coxswain for the national rowing eight before turning his hand to boxing.

He holds three national flyweight boxing titles and an Oceania Games silver medal, and narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Rio Olympics.

He was also awarded the prestigious Jameson Belt for most scientific elite boxer following his win at the 2015 nationals in Invercargill.

While still at school in 2009, Ivan was selected for the New Zealand under-18 rowing team to compete in the World Championships in France.

He went on to cox for the national rowing eight, competing at the World Championships in Karapiro in 2010 where the team finished 5th in the A final.

The team was disbanded after missing out on qualification for the London Olympics. This was when Ivan turned his attention to boxing, which he had started in his last year of school.

It was either that, or wait around until the under-23 rowing eight entered the men’s category and another eight was formed. Not one to sit around for long, he forged on with boxing.

“I initially started it for fitness to try and keep my weight down and to keep fit for coxing, and it progressed from there.”

Ivan trains under Rick Ellis, at the Ringside Gym in Frankton, Hamilton.

“The assumption is that boxing is a man’s sport for boof heads, but it is called the sweet science for a reason. There is a mind side too it and there is more than being the roughest, toughest guy in the ring.”

It requires discipline, dedication and technical skill. “It is physical chess,” he says.

The rowing helped Ivan pick up skills for boxing.

“Because the Rowing New Zealand programme is one of the best programmes both nationally and internationally I have seen first-hand what it takes to get to the top level.”

“I picked up a lot. You are a coach within the boat, so I learned a lot about the technical side."

While it was disappointing to miss out on Rio, Ivan sees it as a stepping stone to greater things.

“I was reasonably happy with my own personal performance as I feel I have improved a lot technically in the last twelve months.”

While retired from rowing, Ivan was asked and agreed to help coach the Hamilton Boys’ High School rowing team for two seasons.

Next year is a big year with the Oceania Championships, qualifying for the World Championships and Ivan is seeking sponsorship to help him get there.

Ivan works as a mechanic at the Newstead Service Centre and is also a qualified personal trainer and licensed boxing coach. He lives in Newstead with his parents Karen and Alan.

Most days Ivan trains at six o’clock both mornings and evenings.

Monica Holt