Boxing: Late replacement makes hash of NZ national anthem before David Light world title fight at Manchester

This article was first published in March 2023.

While Kiwi David Light ended up on the wrong end of his world WBO world cruiserweight title shot against Lawrence Okolie, he arguably fared better than the singer brought in late for the pre-fight anthem.

There's probably nothing more nervewracking than performing a song you've never heard before, let alone a national song of an obscure outpost of the South Pacific.

Tessa King clearly wasn't expecting to stand centrestage with the words of the New Zealand anthem written on a card in front of her, so maybe we should admire her courage, not criticise her performance.

Just a bad night all round for David Light
Just a bad night all round for David Light (right), Photo credit: Getty

Still, this is OUR national song and deserves something more.

King stumbled out of her corner at the bell, unable to complete the opening line correctly... then had us retreating, not entreating. Light seemed to be looking around for a towel to throw.

She offered an alternative arrangement of the lyrics "make her praises heard afar" that were roughly the right words and made sense, but still missed the mark.

Her butchered rendition appeared to stun Light more than any of Okolie's blows in his unanmious points defeat - the first loss of his professional career.

Wisely, King opted not to attempt the Māori verse.

"You get asked to sing a song you've never heard in your life in front of 21,000 people just a few hours before," King posted on Instagram.

"Anyone normal would have turned this job down, but it is I! I had the best time."

To be fair, there have been plenty of sporting anthem botch-ups over the years and King's is not the worst - like the time Dutch hockey organisers played the NZ anthem for the unimpressed Australian men's hockey team

Or when the Americans made a mess of the NZ anthem before the NZ Kiwis v England rugby league test at Denver.

It's probably safer to step into the ring to get punched than to sing a national anthem.