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Newz Forum: BOXING: Controversial Pownceby makes early exit

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posted on Aug, 14 2004 @ 12:02 PM
ATHENS, Aug 14 (Reuters) - New Zealander Soulan Pownceby, once jailed for killing his infant daughter, made an early exit from the Olympic boxing tournament on Saturday.

Pownceby's controversial selection for the Athens Games sparked a moral debate in his country but on the opening day of competition he left the Peristeri hall without a word after losing his first-round bout to Turkey's Yildirim Ihsan Tarhan.

The technically limited light-heavyweight, who had received a caution for wrestling his opponent to the ground and a warning for hitting him with the head, was trailing by 20 points in the third round when the referee stopped the bout.

"He's had a pretty rough time and clearly he's disappointed with that performance," said the New Zealand team chief David Currie.

"There's not much more he can add at this point. I think we need to give him a bit of space and time to get over it. I don't think it's a helpful thing to have a chat right now."

Currie praised the 29-year-old, who was jailed for four years in 1995 for the manslaughter of his five-month-old daughter, for his behaviour since joining the team.

"He's been great since he's been part of the team and I expect he will continue to be," he said.

"He'll stay alone for a couple of days and we'll support him through that and then we'll make sure he gets out."

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clarke got caught up in the public debate that followed Pownceby's selection and called on the boxer to apologise for his past.

Under pressure to make a public apology, Pownceby initially refused before making a tearful appearance on national television and pleading for a second chance.

"I did things which were terribly wrong," he said then.

"I can only go forward.

"I can't change the past. I wish I could but I can't."

Currie said after Pownceby's defeat on Saturday: "Clearly there's been a lot of furore at home around selection.

"I'm not involved in selection. My job is to draw a team together and we did that.

"Now the team will give him the support he needs."


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