The champion boxer missed the Commonwealth Games but landed the role of his dreams. The attached photo
Not many doctors prepare for surgery with a boxing frenzy, but that’s what we can often find Zach Martin doing while stepping into the character of Dr. Rahu Paratha on Shortland Street.
The boxing champ and actor told Women’s Day, “I put a shadowbox in the corner before calling ‘movement.’ Some people look at me like, ‘What’s he doing?’ Sometimes other actors try it out or just laugh at me!” It helps me a lot to get out of my head, especially before the big scenes.”
It’s bittersweet for Zac to punch in Ferndale. If all went according to plan, the 23-year-old would be in Birmingham for the time being, to represent Aotearoa in boxing at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. However, years of training and dedication unraveled after a tragic injury forced Zach to retire.
He admits: “I was devastated.” “I still get emotional when talking about it because it’s been so difficult. The last two years has been everything geared towards the games. My coach Jeff Stott has been repeating, ‘Zach, you have many years to represent New Zealand.’ Don’t beat yourself up. It was cool when I could feel those demons.”
Neither boxing nor acting was on Zack’s radar while he was growing up in Sydney, then West Auckland, where he became addicted to rugby and Kappa Hakka.
But sport runs in the family — his cousin Eli Timo just joined the Silver Ferns, his maternal grandfather Stan Martin played rugby league and his paternal grandfather Mike Anif was an award-winning boxer — and while his father left the family when Zach was 10, Mike has remained an influence. strong.
Zach was introduced to boxing at the age of 15, but his mother, Michelle, forbade him from participating in professional fights until he was 18. By that time, Zach’s boxing dreams had outpaced his passion for footy, so he quit rugby, joined a boxing gym and won his first professional match. “I caught the error!”
It wasn’t long before he won prizes at the Golden Gloves and is looking forward to the Commonwealth Games. When Zach heard he did the preliminary cut last October, he was happy but warned, given that he had injured his wrist in a fight just months earlier.
Determined to make it to Birmingham, he took a recommended steroid injection which enabled him to continue training. However, shortly before attending a training camp in January to try and put together a gaming team, the injections wore off, the pain returned and Zach opted for surgery to heal his wrist, rather than the short-term solution to more steroid shots.
He was grappling with sacrificing his bullet in games when he was tested and then cast on Shortland Street.
Zak has been pursuing acting along with boxing after getting his first role in Whakaata Māori’s Ahikāroa at the age of 18. He did some acting workshops and appeared in the mini-series Jonah, then spent 2021 touring schools with a stage show, while boxing in his spare time.
With a mix of Ngāti Ruanui, Pākehā, and Italian and Bulgarian heritage, Zak has been “over the moon” with the opportunity to portray a Māori character on Shorty and is excited about filming episodes of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.
He worries that Rahu’s escalating relationship with Dr. Esther Samuels, performed by Ngahuya Biribi, will develop in the upcoming episodes, but of course, “there are some obstacles.”
While laughing at the idea of it being Ferndale’s newest eye candy, Zach—who says he’s single and “focused on me”—admits he enjoyed being introduced to by surfers in Tauranga recently, and says he’d love to go back to Australia to work on the back and forth.
In the meantime, he plans to continue juggling boxing and shorts, and will also return to work as a boxing coach once his wrist heals. Regardless of whether he is able to attend the Commonwealth Games in 2026, he will continue his sport.
“I can’t live without boxing and acting,” says Zack, who will cheer for Kiwi boxer Wendell Stanley at the Games. “Both are therapeutic, both physically and mentally.”
Zach notes that there are silver linings to his injury, such as having more time to reconnect with his friends Wannau, and hone his acting career. He wishes he could talk to his grandfather Mike, who passed away in 2016, about his boxing journey, but he knows he’d be proud of it.
“Boxing strengthened our relationship,” he recalls. “It would be great to go back to the garage and train with him again.”
As for his worried mother? “It’s always supportive, but it pisses off Shortland Street because it means boxing is not on paper at the moment,” Zack laughs, adding that his 19-year-old brother Jake has followed him into the sport.
“Jake is going into the ring soon, so one of us is out, while the other is in!”
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