David Nyka proof that good guys can succeed in boxing.
In a sport where fighters are often associated with the impudence, arrogance and pride needed to sell a big fight, the Kiwi cruiserweight bucks that trend.
Instead of flaunting designer clothes and bashing her competitors on social media, Nika spends her free time raising rescue animals and trying to be a positive role model.
So where does his motivation come from as he tries to control and master his fists as an elite boxer?
“Sports is a great way to express myself,” the 27-year-old New Zealander told the Six and a Song podcast.
“I can’t be confrontational (outside the ring). I’ve never been involved in a street or school fight, and I can’t even take a bad cup of coffee! I don’t have a bad bone in my body, but I love the basic art of boxing, and I can’t express it anywhere else.
“I don’t like to be perceived as mean, tough and aggressive, so I can practice that part of being human in the ring.”
David Naika (left) during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Photo by James Chance
“Like everything there are yin and yang components. To me, boxing is messy, and it gets involved both in and out of the ring with social media,” he continued to Kim Crossman’s “Pretty Depressed” podcast.
“I see my drive change from week to week, but the one constant is to be the best version of myself for other people and to inspire people to do good.
ALSO READ: Five things to know about David Nica
Coping with depression during a pandemic
While Nyika is soft spoken outside the ring, she is fierce inside.
The Hamilton native shot to stardom at home when he won heavyweight gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, before winning the heavyweight division at Gold Coast 2018 four years later.
With Tokyo 2020 Games was approaching, everything was going in the right direction.
But when the Covid-19 pandemic and sporting events, including the Olympics, were canceled or postponed, the euphoria of Nika’s excellent qualifying campaign quickly turned to confusion and depression.
“My goal was taken away from me in some ways and I didn’t understand what I was feeling,” he continued.
“I started recording my feelings on a GoPro (video camera) regularly, thinking I would make a YouTube video out of it. But I wasn’t convinced and I didn’t publish any of it.
“I was in such a bad place mentally that I always felt like I hadn’t exercised in months and had strange feelings and it took me a year to figure out why.
A new date has been set for Tokyo 2020 in 2021, and after finally going public with his struggles, Nika decided not to speak about it until after the Games because he felt it would be the wrong kind of thing. attracts sympathy and energy.
“I set myself a personal challenge,” he said.
“I was opening the floodgates to negative energy, so I stopped talking openly about my struggles until I achieved my goal of going to the Olympics.”
David Nyka celebrates winning the gold medal in Coastal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia.
Image from 2018 Getty Images
The Olympic dream has come true
It was a move that paid dividends.
After raising his nation’s flag at the opening ceremony alongside the rugby player Sara HiriniThe 16-year-old fighter passed a tough test in Tokyo against Youness Baala, winning 5-0, despite the Moroccan being accused of biting his ear in a moment reminiscent of Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson.
Another 5-0 win over Uladzislau Smiahlikau in the quarter-finals, before Nika lost 4-1 to 2019 world champion and silver medalist Muslim Gazhimagomedov in the semi-finals.
This meant that New Zealand returned home with an Olympic bronze medal.
“I grew up watching other people succeed on the Olympic stage, and to be there with everyone at home and looking at you, it’s an amazing feeling, but I’ll cherish it forever,” he said of the achievement.
David Nyka training camp with Tyson Fury
In February 2021, Nika made his professional boxing debut and won by knocking out Jesse Mayo in just 29 seconds.
But he knew he needed to improve for his next fight and decided to move to Britain for six months with the New Zealand stars. Joseph Parker – who won the youth Olympic silver medal in 2010 – and Sonny Bill Williams to train with the British heavyweight champion of the world Tyson Fury.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a cruiserweight that was equal parts inspiring and humbling.
“Within 30 seconds of training with Tyson, he dissected everything I did wrong and made me feel like a newbie!” Nyka said.
“It was humbling but amazing and everyone should experience it regularly.”
Unsurprisingly, the New Zealander doubled his career wins record in December 2021, needing just one round to beat France’s Anthony Carpin.
Since then, Nika has recorded further victories against Karim Maatalla (in June 2022) and Louis Marsters (in July 2022) – both in Australia, where he is currently based with trainer Noel Thornberry.
The importance of inviting Joseph, Williams and Nica to train with Fury should not be underestimated.
All three New Zealanders are noted for their humble and relentless work ethic, as well as their ability to land stunning knockout punches.
This combination of their personal profiles, as well as the sport of boxing in general, has grown in popularity in their country over the past few years.
Coach Thornberry said: “Boxing has produced some of the greatest moments in New Zealand sporting history. “David Tua, like Joseph Parker, paved the way, and now David Naika is next in line to continue that incredible legacy.”
Another part of this legacy plan was to break out of the professional ranks and attempt to become the first boxer in history to win three consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medals.
That dream ended when Nikia injured his hand a few months after Birmingham 2022.
But instead of dwelling on that missed opportunity, he’s focused on rebuilding and continuing his professional career with a fifth major in October.
“‘Smile and Be Happy’ is the motto I live by. It can take you far in life,” Nikya said of the mindset that helps her overcome adversity.
“Liam Neeson said that this quote is about how he lives his life and it’s a proverb that has gotten me to where I am now.”
Professional boxers were allowed to participate in the competition Paris Olympics 2024those “heights” are ready to rise even higher in the near future.