Mick Eggins’ love of boxing and some pretty extraordinary life experiences have led him to form the Camden Haven Boxing Team – known as The Mustangs. The team provides a place for those wanting to test themselves, improve their discipline and keep fit to benefit and grow in a unique environment…
How did the Camden Haven Boxing Team, The Mustangs, come about?
I did boxing when I was younger – and I loved it. It always helped to keep me on the straight and narrow.
I was actually helping a mate with reserve grade football in the area, and I figured there were already plenty of football clubs around, but there weren’t any boxing clubs. I thought it would be a good idea to start a club, and if it helped get kids off the street and interested in a sport, that would be great.
The team really had a good kick start at the beginning of last year – we started with 4 kids and now we sometimes have 32 people at one time.
What’s the age range of people involved with the team?
The kids start with us from age 10 and up, but we have older ladies and men training with us as well. There’s no real age limit for those who want to take part. Our oldest member at the moment would be around 47.
What’s your role within the team? Do you coach?
Yes, I coach the team. I also have my former trainer, Neville Sheather – he’s absolutely brilliant and has coached national champions over the years – acting as a mentor for the group. He injured his spine and can’t do the pad work anymore, but he’s just great as someone to give advice and encouragement to the team.
Where and when does the team meet?
We meet at the showground in Kendall, 4 nights a week – Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, from 6 – 8pm. Tuesday nights are for the younger kids – it’s a special night for them. We hold nights for people who aren’t as competitive and don’t want to box seriously or in competition and are there to get fit. Thursday nights are just for boxing and sparring.
It’s only $5 a session too, so the sessions are affordable.
What facilities do you have at the showground? Do you have a proper boxing ring?
Yes, we have a proper competition ring and a floor ring, but what we’d like to do is raise the funds to buy our own shed.
Have you had any luck raising funds for this purpose?
We haven’t had any luck with receiving funding or grants, so we’ve gone ahead and raised $8,000 in 3 months ourselves. We’d love some community and government support for this.
The Kendall Showground people fully support us; they love what we’ve been doing and the fact that we’ve been providing a place for the kids to go, so they don’t just hang around in the streets.
We’re a non-profit organisation – we don’t make any money out of running the team.
Do you supply the gear for members? Gloves, headgear etc?
Yes, we supply gear. If anyone decides to take boxing a bit more seriously, we recommend they buy their own gear though. We do actually buy gear and sell it to the team members as well if they want it – again, not making any profit on these sales.
So, why do you do it? It’s a lot of time on your part to work with the team. What’s the motivation for you?
I just love it; it’s pure passion. I love the sport. I played football for 17 years and did boxing for 5.
I joined the Army, and I really got into boxing there in a big way with a mate of mine. The Army is about discipline and your mates too.
We have a rule at the club: you get into a fight, you’re out of the club. We don’t train people to fight; we train them to box – not to be thugs. Self-defence is a part of this too. We have people who don’t want to get in the ring, but we’ll teach them self-defence, how to hold their hands up and block punches.
About 18 months ago, I had Guillain-Barré Syndrome – an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system attacks the nervous system. I was about 3 days away from having my heart, lungs and other organs shut down. I sometimes still have paralysis down one side of my face. This has really reminded me about the importance of looking after yourself and being fit, and boxing is wonderful for this.
But, I don’t really like talking about myself … it’s all about the team and what they can do that’s important.
We’ve had such good feedback from the team. We’ve heard such good stories about how the kids’ behaviour has improved in school. We have one guy who was a really shy kid in school – he’s a dead set machine now! He’s so respectful though, and walked away from a fight the other night when he was picked on by a group of 8 guys.
Do you cater for the people who want to go all the way and enter competitions?
Yes, we do. We have active boxers at the moment. From ages 10 – 14, you can do competition sparring. We have 4 people doing this at the moment. We have two boxers, with a third preparing to do a fight at Maitland shortly.
As a gym we’re only new, and we’ve had 2 fights for 2 wins. We’re pretty happy about that!
Do you have any events coming up you’d like the public to know about?
We have an amateur fight night coming up at the Kendall Services and Citizens Club on July 28 at 7pm. This will be a fantastic night, and we’d love some sponsors to jump on board for this!
Final words …
I’d like to see this team go wherever it is they want to go. Under 6 fights, you’re a novice. Once you have 6 fights, you’re then a proper boxer. I have boys with their novice titles coming up. If anyone wants to turn professional – we’re happy to take them all the way. If people want to just keep it local, or get fit, we’re equally happy to help them there too.
I have to say a huge thank you to Neville Sheather; my mum, Kerrie Eggins; and to Mandy Barr. They are all absolutely awesome, and do so much for the team – and also my wife, Karrie, who’s expecting our second child any day and is so understanding about all of the time I spend with the team.
Interview by Jo Atkins.
This story was published in issue 79 Greater Port Macquarie Focus