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Andrew Connaughton, Shannen Middleton, and Shaun George are wanting to bring the buzz of boxing back to Thames with a new event. PHOTO: KELLEY TANTAU

In the ring with Never Surrender Boxing

Shaun George thought he’d forever have a boxing gym in his garage.
He started practising the sport at age six, with he and his brother being taught by his dad.
“It was something that was always there, so I thought I’d just have a gym in my garage for the rest of my life.
“But it got overpopulated,” he told The Profile.
And so Never Surrender Boxing Health and Fitness was born, and now has a home in the heart of Thames. For the past 14 years, it has helped hundreds of people with their weight loss journeys, their fitness, and their mental health.
Two converts, Andrew Connaughton and Shannen Middleton have seen the club go from strength to strength.
Shannen was one of Never Surrender’s first students and she had one rule: No fighting.
“I needed to come lose some weight, get fit… that’s what I told [Shaun], that I was not going to fight. I was adamant. Six months later, I was in the ring,” she said.
“After that first fight, I needed another round.”
Andrew meanwhile joined around three years ago and was after a lifestyle change.
“I was too old for sports like rugby and things like that, so I just thought maybe boxing. I Googled it, up popped this club in Thames, and I thought ‘Why not?’
“They are a really genuine bunch of people, and as soon as you walk in, everybody greets each other, and at the end of every session, everybody says goodbye.”
Never Surrender offers classes to all ages and abilities and boasts a number of success stories: middleweight champion Francis Waitai and Tasmyn Benny, the first New Zealand woman to win a medal in boxing at a Commonwealth Games, have both trained at the club.
“Shaun makes this place tick,” Andrew said. “The rest of us pretend we know everything about boxing, but I’ve never met someone who knew so much and was so passionate about it like Shaun.”
On September 23, Never Surrender is hosting ‘Chaos on the Coromandel’, a one-night-only boxing event being held at the Thames Civic Centre.
Sporting celebrity bouts including one featuring Thames’ own Black Fern World Cup winner Vita Dryden, the night will also act as the much-anticipated Hauraki homecoming for Francis Waitai, who holds the WBC Australasia Silver Belt.
The aim of the evening is to bring something positive and exciting back to Thames Valley’s event calendar, the Never Surrender crew said.
“It promises to be a good night,” Andrew added. “The ethos behind this is to do something positive.”
For Shaun, it’s an evening to not only showcase local and national boxing talent, but to bring the community that has supported the club over the past ten-plus years together.
“I feel lucky to have good people,” he said. “Without the people, you just can’t do it.”
DETAILS: Visit for tickets and information about Chaos on the Coromandel.