Temuka boxing doyen dies
Temuka personality and boxing stalwart Ernie Woods has died after a short illness.
Woods, 84, always punched above his weight when it came to dedication to his sport and until recently was still training youngsters in his second home, the Temuka Boxing Club.
A passionate man, he was involved with the club for more than 45 years.
Terry Miller, who help found the Temuka Boxing Club in 1965, said Woods was a special character.
"There certainly weren't two Ernies, that is for sure, and he had two exceptional talents.
"His interest first and foremost was for the boys."
Miller said Woods realised when he had taken someone as far as he could.
"Roger Leonard was a example. He saw the boy had a talent so sent him on to Nelson to be trained by Les Rackley and a couple of months later Leonard won a national title, but Ernie wasn't in his corner.
"He had that sort of humility," Miller said.
Woods, however, did train some others to national titles including Paul Tarrant, Granville Reihana and Liam Hall, who beat the now "mountain warrior" Shane Cameron for the New Zealand light heavyweight title.
"Ernie also almost did the impossible with Granville.
"He won a junior New Zealand title and most scientific boxer, the same in the intermediate and had he done it in the seniors and got the Jamieson Belt he would have been the first in the country to do so."
Many of those boxers and others he trained rang Ernie from all over the world when they heard he was sick, but he was a father figure to many of them as well, Miller said.
Woods was also a motivated fundraiser from which many organisations outside boxing also benefited.
Miller said at one stage they were given chickens, but had to catch and process them to make money for the boxing club.
"I remember chasing the squawking things with Ernie but we made some money so next year it was turkeys and then whitebait.
"When we weighed the whitebait it was underweight so Ernie cancelled the cheque and that got it sorted."
Miller said Woods was instrumental in fundraising to take 52 Temuka Boxing Club members across the Tasman.
"From 5-year-olds to some in their 70s, we had a ball.
"On that tour his grandson, Barton Hearn, won three tournaments, which gave him great pride.
"Ernie also trained his great grandson, Bryce, recently, which must be some sort of record."
Miller said Woods' biggest contribution was to the whole Temuka community.
"He discovered pokie machines and set up a trust, which distributed close to $3 million back, without taking any expenses really.
"Ernie was the most popular man in town. When I saw him at the hospice he told me they had given the hospice $40,000, so I said `well you have paid for your bed'."
Wood's funeral will be in Temuka on Tuesday.
- © Fairfax NZ News