- Publish Date
- Tuesday, 23 May 2023, 2:11PM
David Nyika’s road to cruiserweight glory veers into the small rural town of Gatton, 90km west of Brisbane.
It’s there where Noel Thornberry’s backyard gym is located. It’s nothing flash, but it’s the perfect place for the Kiwi to hone his craft in the ring.
The pair have been joined at the hip for more than a year now, which includes three fights within a five-month span in 2022.
For Nyika, the hard-nosed Thornberry is his first full-time coach in five years after leaving Ringside Gym in Hamilton in 2017, giving him the stability that had been absent for a chunk of his career.
“That security is key and just feeling like your camp’s based around you, like I’m the A side in every kind of camp,” the Hamilton-born 27-year-old told Newstalk ZB.
It’s hard to believe that during his time without a regular trainer, Nyika claimed a Commonwealth Games gold medal and an Olympic bronze.
But Thornberry, who guided Samoan-Australian heavyweight Alex Leapai to a title shot against Wladimir Klitschko in 2014, is the reassurance needed at the early stages of the Kiwi’s professional career.
Before that Nyika had worked with several trainers including former professional boxer Cairo George, as well as Andy Lee, trainer of fellow Kiwi Joseph Parker.
But he couldn’t lock down a coach on a full-time basis, with Lee being a likely long-term option.
“He’s a great coach. I think we could’ve done so awesome things together but I’m happy with the decisions I’ve made.
“I think he’s got a young family, he’s only got limited time, he’s a very busy man so that for me, I didn’t want to impose myself anywhere, so Australia’s taken me.”
A collaboration with Lee would’ve led to Nyika possibly relocating to the United Kingdom, but as the undefeated professional puts it:
“It’s too cold over there, I don’t dig the weather. I’ve lived there for a few years and then I spent six months with the Fury camp and Joe’s camp.”
So the 27-year-old’s chosen the snug life in Gatton, where he’s developed a strong relationship with Thornberry.
“It’s been a definite step in the right direction, not just for my boxing, but for myself, I feel very comfortable.
“We spend so much of everyday together training and just hanging. We go to the local pub together, he’s a really close friend now.”
With one part of the equation solved, Nyika’s team are scrambling to fix another issue – competition.
His rematch with Louis Marsters at Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena on Wednesday will be the Kiwi’s first fight in seven months, a period he describes as “relative frustration”.
“I need the activity, I need to keep the ring rust off and I want to start moving towards bigger fights, so it’s just important for me to stay busy.”
As a promotional free agent, Nyika’s struggled to land frequent fights as a professional.
But with the help of long-time promotor David Higgins, he’s been included on tomorrow night’s No Limit Boxing card, main evented by Joseph Parker taking on Faiga “Django” Opelu in a 10-round heavyweight clash.
It’s part of the puzzle as to why there’s a lack of challengers for the two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
Could his 5-0 professional record and achievements in the amateur ranks have something to do with it?
“Maybe,” Nyika says.
“I don’t feel like a very intimidating dude, maybe in the ring I’m a little bit scary, but I know there are some big fights out there especially in Australia and the cruiserweight division is lining up so it’s exciting.”
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission
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