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Club boxing legend calls time

By Jake Beleski

[email protected]

It is the end of an era for boxing at Masterton’s Young Citizens Club.

Coach Neil Cadwallader has decided to step aside after 40 years of voluntary service.

The 76-year-old and his wife Janice have been stalwarts at the club that has helped produce multiple New Zealand boxing champions.

The timing was right to let the younger generation take over, Neil said.

“The young guys are taking it over now.

“I used to spend hours in the ring, but I’m 76 now so it’s tough.”

The couple will continue to help out with the young citizens side of the club, but will leave the boxing to the younger club members.

“We’re seeing second generations come through now, and even the third in some cases.

“The young guys that have come up have done really well.”

Boxing was a tradition in Neil’s family, and it seems he was always destined to have a significant role in the sport.

Originally from Greytown, Neil joined the navy at 17 and continued to develop his boxing skills.

“It’s been in our family for generations.

“My father was Australasian bantamweight champion — I’ve got a gold medal of a kangaroo shaking hands with a kiwi, and from 1911 I’ve got his father’s medal.”

Neil and Janice were honoured in 2002 for their services to boxing with the country’s top boxing award, the Brian O’Brien trophy, and by a commendation from the International Olympic Committee.

It proved to be a memorable year, as Neil also received a civic award from the Masterton District Council for his voluntary role.

Some famous names have trained at the club, including the Bryant brothers and former All Black Brent Anderson.

Neil had vivid memories of one of Lance Bryant’s greatest moments in the ring.

“He was a New Zealand middleweight champion at 19.

“He went to Australia and knocked out the Fijian champion in the first round, the Samoan champion in the first round, and the Australian champion in the first round.

“I’ve got it those on tape and we still watch them sometimes.”

One of Neil’s most memorable coaching moments was from a trip to Auckland for nationals in the 1995, where he took six local boxers and came back with six gold medals.

The gym had provided the chance for some people to find a second family, where people of all ages and backgrounds were welcome.

“Coming here gives them a lot of confidence and they back themselves.

“If one of them gets in to trouble, the bigger ones are there to look after them — they all look out for each other.”

The Cadwalladers are also working for the Salvation Army and out of school care programmes, which sometimes involved bringing the kids to the gym.

“The ones that are really wild, I’ll bring them down here.

“They don’t box but they use the ring for dodgeball and things like that, and sometimes they’ll bring their scooters down and ride around the gym.”

It may be the end of an era, but they will still be spotted around the club from time to time.

“We’ll still come down.

“There’s a lot of paperwork to do and we need to make sure these guys can get their licences and things like that.”

The boxing part of the club will be run by Laurence Titter and Daniel Miller.


  1. Boxing will miss you Neil. You had many new Zealand champions under your wing. Might see you at a tournament in the near future..

  2. An amazing & GENUINE interest in sport & youth. Awesome efforts by you both. I can recall stopping into your property (I think on the western side of town) for a cuppa after some tourney. You took on a tough mantle after Ken Bateman, & wore it well. That ring/gym looks like the same one I sparred in many many hair cuts ago. Time still for you both to enjoy some casual cycling. Seasons greetings/cheers Colin Anderson

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