World-famous boxer to star in winter festival boxing event

Friday 11 June 2010, 8:14AM
By American Express Queenstown Winter Festival


The American Express Queenstown Winter Festival is delighted to announce that Sugar Ray Leonard, one of the world’s best boxers of all time, will guest star in its inaugural charity boxing event on Sunday 27 June.

Leonard, a six-time former world champion, will address the crowd before taking a ringside seat at the Mountain Scene’s “Thriller in the Chiller”. He will also be the star attraction at an exclusive, pre-fight cocktail party to be held in Queenstown Events Centre’s Mezzanine bar.

Winter Festival is giving 50 people a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet and mingle with Leonard along with the local and celebrity contenders fighting on the night. The cocktail event will be held immediately prior to the fight (5.30pm to 7.00pm) and people interested in attending can register their interest online at before 5pm on Monday 21 June. Tickets cost $295 per person and will include refreshments and nibbles.

Thriller in the Chiller attendees keen to secure memorabilia can bid on a special item donated by Sugar Ray Leonard to the Bruce Grant Youth Trust charity auction. There will also be a host of other items available at both silent and live auctions on the night with ll proceeds going to the trust. Some of the highlights include a Dan Kelly sculptured Golden Kiwi, a Fiordland Immersion Day Trip complete with helicopter charters and an exclusive dinner for 12 cooked for you in your own home by executive chefs from Blanket Bay and The Rees with a case of wine from Waitiri Creek.

Now retired, 54-year old Leonard was the first boxer to earn more than $100 million in purses and won world titles in five weight divisions against the likes of Wilfred Benítez, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran and Marvin Hagler. He was named "Boxer of the Decade" for the 1980s.

Festival Director Simon Green is absolutely delighted to have secured the American sporting hero for the Winter Festival event, particularly because Leonard’s tight schedule only allows him to spend one night in Queenstown.

“This is a real feat for Winter Festival to secure someone as revered as Sugar Ray Leonard to be a part of our inaugural charity boxing event. Our boxers are going to be so excited and honoured to have Sugar Ray in the audience for their bouts.”

Ten three-round bouts are programmed for the evening, including a celebrity match-up between TV2 Lotto presenter Russell Harrison and former Kiwi rugby league hero Tawera Nikau.

Unfortunately an injury has put paid to one of the celebrity matchups in Winter Festival’s spectacular new charity boxing event – but the remainder of the show goes on.

TV3 Sports Tonight presenter Howard “Dobbo” Dobson was due to go head to head with Times FM radio presenter Clint Brown at the Mountain Scene “Thriller in the Chiller” on Sunday 27 June, but has had to retire due to injury.

Mr Green says it’s disappointing news but the show must go on.

“Unfortunately things like this sometimes happen so we wish Dobbo well in his recovery and thank him for being such a good sport. It’s too late in the training schedule to arrange another opponent for Clint so we’ve had to cancel this particular fight, but both Dobbo and Clint will still be in attendance on the night and will instead be having a battle of the microphones as they share the ring announcing duties instead”.

With only a handful of grandstand seats left on sale, an additional 70 tickets have been made available for the mezzanine lounge at $100 per head.

The American Express Queenstown Winter Festival runs from 25 June to 4 July 2010. For more information or for a programme please phone 0800 FESTIVAL (03 441 2453) or visit the Festival website