Earl Nikora: Greatest of Maori Boxers
earl nikora's fight last November with Gomeo Brennan for the British Empire middleweight title was the culmination of years of hard training, and the fulfilment of a lifelong ambition. Though he lost the bout on points he put up a magnificent performance, showing all of the rugged fighting qualities that he was inherited from his famous ancestor, Rewi Maniapoto.
The greatest of all Maori boxers, Earl is the holder of three boxing titles: the New Zealand middle and light-heavyweight boxing crowns, and the Australasian middleweight title. This is a really amazing record, especially when one considers the many obstacles—in particular the limited training facilities—that he has to contend with.
Earl Parariki Hauparoa Nikora, alias ‘The Rock’, was born on 14 January 1940. He is the son of Horima Nikora and Tauariki Ormsby, and is a member of the Kaputahi and Paritekawa subtribes on the Mainapoto and Tainui tribes. He is one of a family of 11 brothers and three sisters.
Earl is married to Elsie Collier of the Ngati Porou tribe, and they have four small daughters.
Other Boxers in The Family
There have been boxers in the family previously, for his father Horima and his uncles, Brownie Nikora and Puku and Henry Wikio, were all notable amateur boxers in their time.
Earl's boxing career began at the age of 13,
when he and his two brothers Mick and Charley got really enthusiastic. Mick and Charley later built up [ unclear: ] ne amateur boxing records in the Waikato district.
In 1955 Earl won his first amateur title when he defeated Johnny Nomura by a K.O. in the third round. Two years later in Wellington he was taken in hand by Willie Dowhan, an Austrian professional who taught him many of the finer points of the game.
‘Absolute Fitness Essential’
Earl says, ‘One of the main things Willie taught me is that absolute fitness is essential. I shall never forget this. No other trainer had really brought this home to me in the same way.’
There followed a series of amateur fights in which Earl did so well that in the opinion of many people, he was most unlucky not to be nominated for the Olympic Games in 1960.
After this he decided to turn professional, and in a series of successful fights he took on all comers from middleweights to heavyweights.
In 1962 Earl defeated John Noumura for the light heavyweight championship by a six-round knockout. However for a long time he could not get the elimination bouts he wanted for the New Zealand middleweight title, and was getting really downhearted and considering giving up the game.
But then he got the chance to fight Tony Tyner, a leading competitor for the title, and beat him comfortably on points. Another victory against Ken Fleetwood followed, and in February 1963 Earl was finally matched with Walter Finlay, the then middleweight champion of New Zealand. Earl knocked Finlay out in the third round, thus earning his second title.
His third title of Australasian middleweight was gained soon afterwards when he defeated Reg Hayes, the then holder, by disqualification.
Bout With Tuna Scanlan
His next ambition was to fight Tuna Scanlan for the Empire middleweight crown, but for a long time he was unable to arrange this. When he did finally get his fight with Scanlan, he was shocked to find that the New Zealand Boxing Association would only allow him a non-title bout.
When he entered the ring in July 1964, he hammered Tuna mercilessly, belting him to final submission in the last round. Earl never looked like being beaten; he was determined to win this fight.
Here is Earl's record as a boxer:
Amateur: 46 fights; 36 wins, one draw and nine losses.
Professional: 36 fights; 27 wins, nine losses.
For the last couple of years Earl has done all his training at the Hangatiki Pa and down at his cowshed, where he and his manager Wally Baker have rigged up a makeshift gymnasium. He has seldom used proper sparring partners, and has done most of his training with his 16-year-old nephew Raymond Jobe and with his uncles Brownie and Reihana, who throughout his career have given him every encouragement and assistance.
Main Interest Now His Farm
Earl is not sure of his future plans, but he will not go overseas. He will defend his titles against all comers, and perhaps retire within the next two years. His main interest now is his 171-acre farm at Waitomo Road, near Te Kuiti, and that is where his future will be.
Among other things, the revenue from his boxing has enabled him to buy a new cowshed and machines and a new tractor, as well as a piano for his wife Elsie and a TV set.
Earl's personal interests include pig-hunting and music. He is the secretary of the local Maori Committee, and one of his main interests is helping to encourage children not to leave school too early, but to go on and further their education.
In winning himself a lasting place in the annuals of New Zealand boxing. Earl Nikora has earned the respect of Maori and Pakeha, and in his courage, determination and self-discipline, he has certainly lived up to the dauntless spirit of the historic saying at the famous battle led by his ancestor Rewi Maniapoto: ‘Ka whawhai tonu tatou aianei, ake ake tonu atu.’
the maori community at isolated Rakaunui, near Kawhia, have built themselves a new hall which has every amenity, including a nursery for babies, a modern kitchen, and an ablution block. The hall was built by voluntary workers who completed every aspect of the job themselves, even cutting the trees down and milling them.
The building was financed by a fund-raising committee led by Mr G. Hamlin; the £900 they collected was subsidised £1 for £1 by the government.