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lmost from the day she started to
walk, Bree Cumming began running.
Before long she was batting, kicking,
bouncing and passing balls, so
that now, at 25, she is an all-round
Cumming grew up on the West Coast where she
was given every opportunity to play sport and she
took full advantage of it, with the help of her parents
Gary and Tanya, who have backed all of her sporting
She went to St Patrick’s Primary School for a
while before moving up the road to Grey Main,
and likewise her secondary education also began at
John Paul II High School, but after the fourth form
ended up at Greymouth High School because “that ’s
where all of my friends were”.
While she did well academically it was sport that
grabbed her time and attention. In the winter her
Saturdays were full — in the mornings she played
rugby, around lunchtime she was running around the
netball courts, then in the afternoon she was playing
age-group rugby league for Suburbs — in the same
team as her older brother, Dominic. Weekdays, as
well as training for league, rugby and netball, she
would slip in a game of basketball.
When summer rolled around it was time for tennis,
softball and cricket.
Bree is the middle child in the Cumming
household. Brothers Dominic and Nik are also
sporty and she says growing up with them saw her
following them around, and that was most likely
how she became involved in so many sports.
She is no slouch when she plays — whatever the
code — having represented West Coast in several
sports. As a youngster she wore the red and white in
rugby league, softball and tennis, and more recently
in senior netball and basketball.
After finishing school Cumming headed across the
alps and completed a diploma in sport and fitness.
While studying in Christchurch she continued
her love affair with sport, focusing on basketball at
premier level. She could have gone further had she
not been so injury prone.
“Before I was 20, I’d had ankle and shoulder
reconstruction, which didn’t help me.”
After finishing her studies she worked as a personal
trainer in Christchurch for a year, before scoring a
job on a cruise ship, again as a personal trainer.
“It was an awesome, cool gig — I went to 56
After that stint, she was ready for a change and
asked herself ‘what next?’
That was when she came home and scored another
sport-centred job, being appointed the Kiwi Sport
co-ordinator, working in schools with children.
“I held sport sessions at primary schools around
Greymouth and the focus was on the kids. I taught
the fundamental skills and enjoyed every minute of
When the opportunity arose for a co-ordinator at
Sport Canterbury-West Coast she jumped at the
Her role there involves sport in every respect —
she co-ordinates events, organises the school holiday
programmes, supports sports groups, and she still
does a bit of work in schools.
“I help other sporting groups promote their sports
and make sure events held in the area are well
On her return home, Cumming picked up
where she had left off and hit the ground
running, getting herself involved in most of the
sports she had played before she left Greymouth,
“ When I came home I was into everything I was
before I left, and started cycling and doing triathlons
Soon she was back making a name for herself in
premier A netball and senior basketball.
Then, a couple of years ago she stepped into the
boxing ring after having her arm twisted to take part
in the charity fundraiser, the Seaside Showdown
“I loved it and kept training after my first go in the
boxing ring,” she said.
After that she competed in the South Island
Novice Championships, and came second. In
December she took on a corporate fight, but lost in a
“Boxing is a great sport — it teaches discipline,
fitness and focus.”
The quick-footed Cumming said her experience
with all of the other sports, especially netball and
basketball, had helped hone her boxing skills.
“I’ve never been badly hurt. I did hurt my wrist
once, but that is nothing.”
She admits to being a “ bit scared ” about being hit
in the head initially, but after a couple of knocks she
got used to it and literally rolled with the punches.
“My first hit to the head was like a jarring feeling
— I got over it pretty quickly.”
So far she has fought in both corporate and novice
fights, and headgear is optional in corporate fights;
the one fight she had, her opponent did not wear
headgear, but she did.
“In the novice fights you have to wear headgear.
The glove sizes are also different — they are heavier
in the corporate fights than the novice ones.”
She is full of praise for her boxing coach Kelly
“Heads up to him, he does a tremendous job. He’s
awesome and puts so much into training boxers on
the West Coast.”
Her parents were also pretty supportive of her
decision to take up boxing, as they had been with all
her sporting efforts.
“They have watched all my fights and Dad has
been coming down to the gym to learn the ropes as
well. Mum hates it — she wouldn’t even come to the
fights if I didn’t make her,” Bree laughed.
Cumming now believes she has a future in boxing,
and she has some pretty lofty aspirations as to where
it might take her.
“Professional — maybe not. It’s a full-time thing,
is the Commonwealth Games, but that is a few years
away, and before that my aim is to make it to the
New Zealand Championships this
One of the struggles with women’s boxing is
getting fights. There are only three girls in her
weight division in the South Island — in Ashburton,
Dunedin and Christchurch.
But she loves being back on the West Coast.
“I feel free, I love the environment and love getting
out in it doing what I love — playing sport.”
From her job she can see that a lot of West Coast
sportspeople, especially those with potential, need to
“put in the hard yards”.
“Sometimes the good sports can be a little too laid
Both Cumming’s brothers have also excelled
in sport. Nik, who has just returned home, and
Dominic, who lives in the United Kingdom where
he has been playing cricket for a few years.
She said that even as a youngster she knew she
wanted to work in the sports arena.
“I am just very lucky I had the opportunity at Sport
Canterbury West Coast — it’s my dream role.”
Born for sports
Born for sports
Bree Cumming has lived and breathed sport all of her life. It is her hobby, her lifestyle and
her work — and she recently discovered she is pretty handy in the boxing ring. She talks to
VIV LOGIE about her life and aspirations.
PICTURE: Viv Logie
All-round sportswoman Bree Cumming hopes she has a future in the boxing ring.
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