NZ body will go to world's top court to try and ge

Boxing New Zealand have come out swinging over the amateur status of Tongan fighter Doug Hawke, saying they will take their grievance to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if their appeal is dismissed.

Boxing New Zealand chairman Keith Walker told NZPA today they would head to the highest sports court in the world if the former kickboxer retained his Oceania Championships gold medal, which he won in Tonga earlier this month.

New Zealand-based Hawke won the gold medal -- and direct entry to the Athens Olympics, at the expense of New Zealand heavyweight Angus Shelford, who was ruled out of the prized final by a medical panel due to an ear infection.

Boxing New Zealand lodged a protest on April 30 with the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) over Hawke's amateur status, after learning he fought as a professional kickboxer under the name of Doug Viney.

We asked for an urgent reply from AIBA, but we still haven't heard anything," Walker said.

All the stops need to be pulled out to ensure the right person will be at the Games."

"The court of arbitration is the final step. If the AIBA say Hawke was eligible to fight we won't accept that. The only possibility for us after that is the court."

Auckland light-heavyweight Soulan Pownceby won New Zealand's solitary gold medal at the Oceania championships in the men's division and at this stage is the only New Zealand boxer going to Athens.

Walker said they were desperate to settle the matter because they needed to put together a training programme for their boxers "while Angus is sitting there in limbo waiting to know whether he will be going to Athens".

The AIBA told Walker that Hawke was allowed to compete at the Oceania championships because he had not signed a kickboxing contract and therefore had not breached the amateur status rules.

"Clarification of eligibility rules is crucial because our whole structure in New Zealand is based around amateurism," Walker said.

"The sport's safety is based around how we register and conduct our sport.

"The whole structure is in jeopardy by allowing a professional from another sport closely connected to boxing to infiltrate our amateur status, without ever competing as an amateur."

Even if Boxing New Zealand take their protestations to the Swiss-based court, Walker admits a victory may not give Shelford enough time to prepare for the Olympics.

"I don't think we would have time for Angus, but we can still ensure only eligible boxers go to the Games."

Another New Zealand sports body has already appealed to the CAS this year. Yachting New Zealand successfully challenged the Sports Disputes Tribunal decision to re-open their Olympic nominations process.


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