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World Boxing Federation People: Patrick Leonard
POSTED ON MAY 16, 2017.
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FEATURE   Photo: New Zealand Professional Boxing Association President, and World Boxing Federation (WBF) Championship Committee Member, Patrick Leonard.

As is the case with any organization, effective and professional team-work behind the scenes is necessary to make the World Boxing Federation (WBF) run as smoothly as possible. Thankfully, the WBF has been able to attract a line-up of very astute boxing personalities to make sure of this.

Most people will agree that boxing should mainly be about the boxers. They deserve the spotlight and the accolades more than anyone, but it is still a fact that the sport needs qualified and capable people working behind the scenes to make things happen.

In this WBF People feature-series, we try to shed some light on the men and women who makes the World Boxing Federation what it is. WBF Championship Committee Member Patrick Leonard from New Zealand is featured in this the third edition.


Closing in on his eighty-second birthday, Patrick Leonard was born on September 22, 1935 in a New Zealand country town called Te Aroha, and had a firm upbringing by Irish parents. The family later moved to the district of Waikowhai, Mount Roaskill near Auckland.

“This was in the depression times, and before World War 2”, says Leonard, one of six siblings: four boys and two girls.

“My father took a position as a farm manager, and we produced cream for the local dairy factory. From an early age I worked on the farm with milking and feeding horses, pigs, poultry or anything else that turned up for feeding."

“I went to school ten kilometers away, and if you missed the buss you walked. Home again, back down to the farm for more work.”

At the age of sixteen Patrick attended College, and passed exams, but left school to assist his parents with the upbringing of his brothers and sisters.

At nineteen he began working as a laborer in the meat-slaughter and freezing industry, and eventually worked his way to becoming a qualified slaughterman and Shop Butcher.

He later worked as a Meat Inspector, Safety and Training Officer, Employment Officer, Staff Training Officer, Airport Manager, among other things, until retiring from the work-force at the age of seventy.

But while still a young man, he started boxing and had some amateur bouts, which he admits was of mixed success for him. His first boxing-idol was former World Heavyweight Champion Jack Dempsey, who coincidentally had his last fight exactly eight years before Patrick was born, September 22, 1927.

“When I started boxing, my trainer told me I had the punch of a heavyweight, and I was only a welterweight. At the time I was also Bike-Racing with great success, and I was totally fit at 140 Lbs.”

“My boxing trainer loved one demonstration where I was in a corner with my hands up to protect my face, and he would get a heavyweight to stomach-punch me, and I would shuffle forward and push the heavyweight back across the ring to the opposite corner.”

“Bike-Racing made my stomach and muscles very hard, they had to be when riding 160 Km races. But, after a few years my trainer took me aside and told me that I was a superior Bike-Racer to a boxer, and recommended that I concentrate on racing. I always thought there was a collusion somewhere!”

In Bike-Racing Leonard went on to win national titles, but had a bad crash when he was around twenty years old and retired from that sport too when he went to Palmerston North in 1957 to concentrate on his forthcoming exams and future thereafter.

Besides being a valuable member of the World Boxing Federation team, he was recently elected president of the New Zealand Professional Boxing Association (NZPBA). About his introduction to professional boxing, Leonard explains:

“I was married in 1960, and moved to Auckland in 1966 with my family. There I met an old college friend who had boxed, and knew that I had boxed. He explained that he was the president of the South Pacific Boxing Association, and asked me if I could assist him in officiating at boxing demonstrations and exhibitions.”

“That’s how I got my start in professional boxing, and I am still going strong. I was made secretary in 1967, and only stepped down from that position this month, May of 2017, to accept nomination for and be elected President.”

“The South Pacific Boxing Association became the New Zealand Professional Boxing Association in 1984, and I have covered every position in the association.”

During his time with the NZPBA, Leonard developed the associations policy that boxers health, safety and welfare comes before anything, something he is very proud of. He has also mentored many young boxers who went on to become very successful, and he is a personal friend to current WBO Heavyweight Champion Joseph Parker.

In 2010 he was honored with the Member Of The New Zealand Order of Merit, recognizing his services to boxing and his community service as a Justice of the Peace, which actually adds “MNZP” after his name. He is the first person to be given this recognition for service to professional boxing in New Zealand.

So, how did he get to become a member of the World Boxing Federation (WBF) directory?

“When Joseph Parker fought Francois Botha in 2013 I was introduced to (WBF President) Howard Goldberg, who informed me that he had something special going on. He later contacted me and asked if I would accept membership of the WBF, and offered me to serve on the Championship Committee, which I respectfully and quickly accepted.”

So, it has now been around four years since Leonard joined the WBF, and he has no plans of stepping down from his position any time soon, or from being active in professional boxing in general. But when the time comes, all he wants to be remembered as is “a caring person”.

“I want to be remembered as a person who cared for boxers, promoters and the world body I belong to. Things has to be right and fair for all.”

“And I love to see youngsters coming on, being trained properly as boxers or as ring officials. I would like to be remembered as someone who just wanted things to be correct and right.”

Even though boxing takes up a huge part of his time, Patrick Leonard still finds time for his other big fascination: Photography. A fanatical photographer since the age of sixteen, he is now a facilitator and instructor in something called the SeniorNat Camera Workshop.

Just because a man is close to eighty-two years old, doesn’t mean he has to take it easy. To Patrick Leonard, age is just a number...

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  WBF People: Torben Seemann Hansen

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