All Blacks great Keven Mealamu eyes Paul Gallen-style boxing move

Keven Mealamu has never backed down on the rugby pitch as Wallabies hooker Brendan Cannon has discovered.  Now, Mealamu has ambitions in the ring.

Maarten Holl / Stuff

Keven Mealamu has never backed down on the rugby pitch as Wallabies hooker Brendan Cannon has discovered. Now, Mealamu has ambitions in the ring.

All Blacks great Keven Mealamu is looking to be the Paul Gallen figure of New Zealand boxing.

He will begin his challenge inside the ring by taking on former Warriors star Wairangi Koopu as promoter Dean Lonergan relaunches his iconic Fight For Life promotion on July 21 at Eventfinda Stadium on Auckland’s north coast.

Mealamu, 43, a two-time World Cup winner who played 132 Tests for New Zealand including three as captain, is motivated by the deeds of Australian league toughman Gallen who managed to transfer his boxing skills.

SKY ARENA

He has already beaten Matua Parkinson and is now watching Keven Mealamu.

Mealamu enlisted Monty Betham as coach, who said: We have a trip in mind for Keven. Its potential excites me.

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Lonergan is hosting his first show in New Zealand after four years across Tasmania where he captured a key share of the Australian fight market.

“Keven Mealamu is the first All Black centurion to fight on Fight for Life and is keen to follow in Paul Gallen’s footsteps in developing a successful and lucrative boxing career, and I don’t see why not,” Lonergan said. when the promotion is announced. Wednesday.

There is talk of Mealamu having his eye on the New Zealand heavyweight title, something his good friend and All Blacks teammate Sonny Bill Williams won in 2012.

Keven Mealamu played 132 games for the All Blacks, including three as captain.

Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Keven Mealamu played 132 games for the All Blacks, including three as captain.

There’s a lot of money to be made in the fighting game, as Gallen and Williams discovered entering the pro ranks, swapping names.

Mealamu faces a tough first challenge against the athletic Koopu, 42, who has 171 NRL appearances with the Warriors and Melbourne Storm, as well as three Tests for the Kiwis. Koopu has fought on Fight For Life before with a points victory over rugby player Matua parkinson in 2011.

“By all accounts Keven has done well against the gym pros and Monty thinks highly of him. Wairangi is just a specimen, look at him, and spends half his life in a non-MMA gym said Lonergan.

Betham is fully aware that his journey with Mealamu could be derailed early on if things aren’t perfect on fight night. Beetham played alongside Koopu for the Warriors from 1997 to 2005, starting with the Under-19s, and knows their rival’s athletic gifts well.

“Wairangi, like Keven, is a special athlete who not only has an out-of-this-world engine, but a fearsome heart and mental toughness,” Betham said.

Wairangi Koopu managed to beat Matua Parkinson on points in his Fight For Life bout in 2011.

Pierre Meecham

Wairangi Koopu managed to beat Matua Parkinson on points in his Fight For Life bout in 2011.

Koopu is trained by experienced professional MMA fighter Rod MacSwain.

Mealamu has already proven that he can take a chance. He was famously punched by Wallabies rival Brendan Cannon during a 2004 Bledisloe Cup Test in Wellington.

Cannon said it was the hardest punch he had ever landed, but the result was a blow to his ego rather than Mealamu’s head.

“It was devastating, devastating in the sense that it did absolutely nothing to Keven Mealamu,” Cannon said.

“You line someone up, you do your best to them and their head moves half an inch and nothing else really happens… then you think ‘I’m in a lot of trouble here. I need a gun or something to sort this out’.”

Cannon was banned for two weeks for his punch while Mealamu was sentenced for retaliation.

As usual, Fight For Life will be donating funds to charity to benefit Mike King’s youth mental health and suicide prevention organization, I Am Hope.