Woodstock Honey Fight for Life
REDEMPTION is the over-riding theme for tonight’s Woodstock Honey Fight for Life.
An all-star cast of characters comprised of A-list league and rugby talent will beat up on each other in The Trusts Arena all in the cause for prostate cancer awareness.
But for some of the combatants – be it from the NRL or from those who have worn the black jersey – it’s all about rebranding themselves.
Take Willie Mason. The former Kangaroo and current Newcastle Knights star is one of the most loathed by Kiwi sports fans.
His time with the Bulldogs coincided with some of that club’s darkest days, his stint with the Roosters was referred to as a ‘money grab’ and he even had the audacity to yawn during the Kiwis’ rendition of the haka before a test match.
“I know blokes with a bit of black in their veins love to hate me,” Mason said.
“I know that because every time I have played against the Warriors at Mt Smart the crowd target me.
“And when I have been out in Auckland and Wellington the public like to give me a bit of shit.
“Hopefully though, by taking part in Woodstock Honey Fight for Life the average Kiwi bloke will give me a little love.
“I’m putting my body on the line for a good cause – I think sports fans from both sides of the ditch will respect me a bit more for that.”
Mason, along with NSW Origin stars Paul Gallen and Greg Bird as well as Warriors wing Manu Vatuvei and former Kiwis’ strongman Jarrod McCracken will represent league in the Clash of the Codes.
Former All Blacks Carlos Spencer, Troy Flavell and Rene Ranger, current All Black Hika Elliott will represent on Sky’s pay-per-view platform Arena for rugby along with ring-in Eric Murray – the 2012 Olympic rowing gold medallist.
Vatuvei is coming off his worst year as a Warrior – a season which saw him lose his place in the Kiwis.
“A few people have written off my chances of playing at the Rugby League World Cup next year,” he said.
“That’s fine, but for me the Woodstock Honey Fight for Life has been the best thing to happen. I am fitter than I have ever been and pre-season for the Warriors is the best it’s been because of that fitness.
“Boxing has allowed me to approach next year with a fresh outlook. I’m hungry again. I am in the best position possible to prove a few people wrong.”
Ranger – who will take on Bird – has redemption on his mind too.
He was in the news for all the wrong reasons earlier this year when he was in court facing a charge of assault with intent to injure after an incident outside a Northland Tavern in 2009.
In August he was found not guilty and he now sees the Woodstock Honey Fight for Life as something of a rebranding exercise.
The other ‘Clash of the Codes’ bouts tonight see Gallen take on Elliott and McCracken go head-to-head with Spencer; Of those, the bout between Gallen and Elliott is highly anticipated.
Gallen – the Cronulla Sharks and NSW skipper – had first choice of opponents and opted for Elliott – clueless that the All Blacks’ reserve hooker is a former New Zealand karate champion with more than 60 bouts under his belt.
“I chose Hika as my opponent for two reasons,” Gallen said.
“First of all, I’d never heard of him. But the main reason was because he is a forward. If I am going to lose there was no way that I wanted to lose to a winger!
“Now that I know his background, well... it’s a little daunting.”
Gallen won’t be the only Shark in attendance in Auckland tonight. His teammate Todd Carney will also be at the venue as he supports his pro boxing partner - The Footy Show regular Lauryn Eagle.
She’s up against NZ pro Daniella Smith. In tonight’s other pro bout New Zealand boxing phenom Joseph Parker takes the ring for the third time in his promising career when he fronts the controversial Richard Tutaki.
Promoter David Higgins is convinced the fight night will prove to be a hit with sports fans.
“Clearly rugby league is popular and we all know of the close ties between league and boxing,” he said.
“There is a good cross-over between the two sports and there has already been plenty of interest generated by the announcement of, in particular, Paul Gallen, Greg Bird, Willie Mason, Manu Vatuvei and Troy Flavell.
“Boxing is such a tough sport.
“Unlike league and rugby where a player gets to rely on his teammates, inside those ropes there is no hiding place.
“So it’s no surprise to me that these guys – some of the toughest footballers going around – want to jump in the ring and test themselves against some pretty gritty guys from their rival code.”
* The 2012 Woodstock Honey Fight for Life will be broadcast live on Sky TV’s pay-per-view Sky Arena platform from 8pm. To book phone 0800759758.
Who is behind Fight for
EVENT PROMOTER: DUCO EVENTS
The “promoter” of Fight for Life, is Duco Events which will financially underwrite Fight for Life and will pay for the multi-million dollar expense of staging the event. In consideration for the risk, effort and expense, Duco Events will retain commercial revenue, including ticket sales, sponsorships and broadcast fees, and will retain any profits after all expenses are paid, with the exception of net fundraising proceeds which will accrue 100% to the charity recipient.
CHARITY RECIPIENT: THE PROSTATE CANCER FOUNDATION
As “charity recipient” for Fight for Life, the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s objective is to raise awareness of the need for men to be tested for prostate cancer. In line with this objective, Fight for Life is expected to generate publicity for the Prostate Cancer Foundation valued at several million dollars. Further, the Prostate Cancer Foundation is expected to receive over $100,000 cash from Fight for Life including 100% of net fundraising proceeds derived from auctions, pledge draws, raffles and donations.