Tokyo Olympics: Joseph Parker helps David Nyika rekindle boxing ambition, after struggles with Games uncertainty

One of New Zealand's brightest medal hopes, David Nyika, gets his Olympic campaign underway on Tuesday.

But Tokyo was a Games that almost never came for the 25-year-old and it wasn't just because of COVID-19.

The two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist says he fell into a spiral last year, and struggled to find the passion to continue in the ring, until a certain former world champion stepped in.

A year ago, just being at the Tokyo Games seemed a world away.

"The excitement has been dwindling, and part of the reason why this build up has been so hard is - how do you stay excited for something you don’t know is gonna happen?" Nyika tells Newshub.

When the 2020 games were postponed, Nyika fell into a rut, and out of love with the sport he’d given his all for the past 10 years.

"I've been battling just to try and make the best of a bad situation," he admits.

Despite claiming back-to-back Commonwealth Games gold medals, Nyika lost the drive to continue striving towards a spot at the Olympics.

He tried to keep training during lockdown, but the 25-year-old struggled with the lack of genuine competition, going without a fight for over a year. 

"I've had to find other avenues to get me excited and the professional boxing," he says. 

"Working with Joe [Parker] and [trainer] Kevin [Barry],  that was exactly what I needed."

Nyika joined Joseph Parker’s camp for his fight with Junior Fa.

A spot on the undercard and a professional debut, and suddenly Nyika has rekindled his love for the sport, as well as his drive to fight for a place at Tokyo.

"I needed those nerves. I needed to go through the motions of getting in the ring, and I know there's really bright days around the corner."

Nyika's hoping the dark days end with an Olympic medal. 

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Join us at 3:51pm, Tuesday for live updates of David Nyika's opening heavyweight bout against Youness Baalla.