The 2013 Royal Canberra Show
Saturday night at the show. Photo: Rohan Thomson
THIRD generation tent boxer Michael Karaitiana knows how well a man can fight just by looking at him. The 49-year-old hung up his gloves last year but everything he learnt watching his grandfather and father keeps his sons and other boxers safe.
''I can tell if a bloke can fight or not - that is my gift, it's what I know,'' Mr Karaitiana said.
He looks at their brow, nose and knuckles to ensure he evenly matches up the challengers to his fighters as challengers often try to play down their experience.
''Is the nose broken or straight? I look at the hands to see if any knuckles have been broken. I look at the way a bloke stands, if he has balance - a fighting stance. I can tell who he is capable of fighting, one of the good blokes or one of my beginners.''
The Royal Canberra Show paid Mr Karaitiana to bring Roy Bell's Touring Stadium back to the capital after a 10-year absence to stage exhibition shows. ''This is not fair dinkum - even though we tell a few lies and say it is … but in the [Northern] territory it is. Here those fighters that we get out of the crowd - some of them are our blokes - they work for us. They train all day with us.''
Mr Karaitiana said tent fighting was different to boxing.
''These gloves are well-padded 16 to 18 ounce. You can't get hurt. The rounds are shorter. I stop and start them when I want.''
He spends nine months travelling around the Northern Territory where laws on tent boxing are more relaxed.
But in the ACT fighters have to be registered, see a doctor before and after a match, are only allowed to fight a few times a week and an ambulance has to be standing by during a fight.
''It can't be boxing - it's too expensive here. The show society have paid me to put on a free attraction. Here people pay nothing to get in.''