Sports correspondent & historian
Tauranga Boxing Club amateur boxers Arlington and Michelle Nuki are about to make the step up to international competition.
The pair have been selected in the New Zealand Boxing team to compete in the Arafura Games in Darwin, Australia, 25 April - 2 May 2019.
The Arafura Games began as the Arafura Sports Festival in 1991 with 1500 athletes competing in seven sports.
In 1998, it changed its name to the Arafura Games and was held biannually, except in 2003, when the SARS virus that swept the world saw the sporting festival cancelled.
The last Arafura Games were held in 2011 before going into recess.
After an eight year hiatus, the Northern Territory Government has brought back the Arafura Games, which showcases not only sport but also the arts, culture and history of the region to their Asia/Pacific neighbours.
The two Western Bay of Plenty boxers will receive an outstanding experience of taking part in the opening and closing ceremonies, with the 1500 athletes from forty countries.
The 2019 Arafura Games will feature 17 sports including; athletics, badminton, basketball, basketball 3X3, beach volleyball, boxing, football, indoor volleyball, muay-thai, netball, sailing, sepak takraw, squash, swimming, table tennis, tennis and weightlifting,
The sporting festival in Australia's Far North, is seen as catering for elite development competition.
The boxing competition excludes national champions, with the Australian State teams giving the Australian boxing selectors a good look at their emerging elite talent.
New Zealand has followed the Australian lead and will send two boxing teams representing the North and South Island, to Darwin.
There is no better example of the development aspect of the Arafura Games than the 2011 Super Heavyweight Gold Medal winner.
A 19-year-old Joseph Parker won his first international amateur title in the Darwin ring.
A Boxing New Zealand report of the day said “Young Kiwi Super Heavyweight Joseph Parker, continued to show that he is a world-class boxer, stopping both opponents that he met in the Darwin ring”.
“In the Final he had little trouble with Emile Gineate from French Polynesia, with the referee ending the contest in the first round."
It's a long way from the Arafura Games to the dizzy heights of a World Heavyweight title.
However, plenty of boxing talent and a strong management team around the Kiwi pugilist, have taken Joseph Parker to become a world class boxer, from humble beginnings in South Auckland.
While Joseph lost his WBO World title to Anthony Joshua, the Independent Boxing Ratings - which are based on facts and not hyperbole of the various world boxing organisations - currently rank the Kiwi pugilist as nine in the heavyweight ranks.
His promotional and management team now face the challenge of positioning their boxer for another world title fight.
However, it's a two-edged sword - victory will propel Parker back to the big money; with defeat meaning that his star will be tarnished and his second world title dream will disappear.