Kiwi boxing couple put a ring on it!

These two athletes are lovers and fighters – and they’re getting married!
Pictures: Amalia Osborne

She thought it was unusual, but Commonwealth Games boxer Erin Walsh didn’t click when her partner, fellow boxer Ben Stowers, wanted to get dressed up for a walk at Auckland’s famously wild Piha Beach – he said he wanted to get a sunset photo at their favourite place before her parents flew home to Ireland the next day.

She still didn’t twig when Ben, 29, suggested the 28-year-old wear a dress he had bought her. And she didn’t even cotton on when he grabbed her hand and solemnly said, “Erin, don’t cry,” before starting to tell her how much she meant to him.

Ben recalls, “Then she started crying, so I had to cut the speech short and I just asked her.”

Laughing, Irish-born Erin – who represented Aotearoa at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham – explains, “I thought he was breaking up with me in front of my parents! I remember some of the words he said, like, ‘Since you came into my life, you’ve made me a better man.’ And then he said, ‘I want to spend the rest of my life with you.’ It was very cute.”

Erin’s parents, Karen and Hugh, had spent the past month with them in West Auckland, but it was only at the end of their trip, in January, that Ben asked for their blessing, having shared his plans with his proud parents the previous evening.

He tells Woman’s Day, “Erin went to a friend’s place and I spent the night with her parents. As soon as I pulled out the ring, her mum cried, I cried and her dad gave me a hug.”

Erin’s all smiles with her parents after the sunset proposal.

He designed her ring, which features two diamonds intertwined with smaller stones, as a symbol of their two souls. Ben says, “I had been waiting a whole year, since I knew that her parents were coming. But I waited because I wanted to get to know them first and I wanted them to get to know me.”

From their first date, tells Erin, he has been thoughtful.

“For a while, I didn’t know if he was real or not, but he is so perfect. I feel so blessed. We’re from totally different parts of the world, but we’ve come together and fit so perfectly.”

Erin shows off her ring with a kiss from Ben

The pair met through boxing, when Erin added the amateur fighter on Instagram in 2021, then he messaged her. But within days, it was announced COVID restrictions would return.

Erin shares, “I remember saying to him, ‘If I don’t meet you until after lockdown, we’re probably just going to fizzle out and nothing’s going to happen, so we should probably meet today.’ We walked for about 10km at Te Atatū Peninsula and we ended up going home at about 11 at night. The rest is history. Within two weeks, we were in each other’s bubble!”

Erin moved to New Zealand from Ireland eight years ago, a bold move Ben admires.

He enthuses, “The first thing I noticed was her energy. She came from another country and made a new life, which is hard to do. When we first went out, she talked a lot, laughed a lot and was really good company. I’d spent six years being single and didn’t want anyone in my mind space, then I met Erin.”

Boxing couple Ben Stowers and Erin Walsh are engaged

And the adoration is mutual. Erin adds, “Ben is so patient and kind. He’s really showed how much he cares about me. He puts me first. I’ve never felt so loved, accepted and at peace.”

They both admit to being nervous seeing each other fight. Erin, who narrowly missed out on being selected for our 2024 Olympic team, says, “I hate the feeling of him about to get into the ring, even though I have full belief he’ll win and I think he’s a great fighter. But I know from experience that you don’t know what’s going to happen inside the ring. It doesn’t really matter what your game plan is – it can all go south on you. And the more fights you have, the better your opponents are going to be. So it is scary watching him.”

Boxing powercouple Ben Stowers and Erin Walsh are engaged
Knock-out couple Ben and Erin are in each other’s corner.

Erin, alongside her work in sports retail, focuses on her professional boxing career, training daily and coaching others. She and Ben have given themselves lots of time to plan their 2026 wedding, which will give overseas family plenty of time to save for the trip over.

“I’ve spent so long making my life here,” Erin says. “My close friends are Kiwis, and Mum and Dad love it over here, but we may renew our vows in Ireland too. I’d love to take Ben there.”

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