Getting beaten around the head has become the new norm for Toihoukura lecturer Erena Koopu, who is representing EIT Tairāwhiti in this year’s Fight for Life.
Erena is one of 18 volunteers who have passed the selection process to take part in the community boxing event to raise money for the Life Education Trust’s Gisborne branch.
Over 58 people were put forward for this year’s event, on November 30 at Showgrounds Park Event Centre. Of those 33 passed the initial medical and fitness tests.
After two months of rigorous training, 18 of them will make it into the ring after the final selection.
Erena has been giving it her best shot, with cardio sessions daily combined with running and boxing lessons with the Patu Tahi Boxing Club.
“All I seem to be doing is working and working out,” she said.
At 34, she sometimes thinks she is too old to be doing this. But she is nevertheless enjoying every minute of it, and so far, has had no injuries.
“I should have done this when I was 20,” she said.
She has had to learn how to take the hits and like all the novice boxers taking part, she wears all the protective gear.
Although it has been a personal journey, her colleagues and students at Toihoukura are getting almost as much joy out of it as she has.
“I get a new boxing name and boxing song every day when I get to work and the boys are getting a great laugh from it,” she says.
Performing before a large crowd on the day does not faze Erena, who is a seasoned kapa haka performer.