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Family

Shane Cameron's big surprise: 'Our daughter's a miracle'

Becoming a dad again nearly knocked out the former boxer, but it was the best thing for the newly rekindled couple

By Rebekah Hebenton
He's been a farmer, a father and a champion boxer, but now Shane Cameron has entered a new phase of his life as a businessman and fitness entrepreneur. And he's doing it all with the help of his beloved partner Casey Potatau by his side.
"It's all a learning curve for me," tells Shane. "All I used to know is how to box and how to farm. So now, dabbling in the world of business is very challenging."
It has been a difficult year for the couple. As well as keeping their gym and various businesses afloat during the Covid pandemic, and launching a new fitness app, Shane, 44, and Casey welcomed their first child together. Their beautiful baby girl Kōwhai turns one next month.
"Nothing about the last 12 months has been easy," tells Casey. "Baby was four weeks old when we went into the three-and-a-half-month lockdown last year. Shane and I were both working full-time and trying to juggle looking after Kōwhai. It was tough but we got through it. It has definitely made our relationship a lot stronger."
Daddy's little princess! Gorgeous Kōwhai wins hearts wherever she goes.
Shane and Casey met 15 years ago when he was speaking at an event she attended. Smitten with the heavyweight champion, she asked him out.
"My New Year's resolution was to go on a date with someone," says Casey. "It was three months into the year and I hadn't found anyone. I thought he was cheeky, funny and a little bit quirky."
Shane quips, "You forgot to say handsome!"
When Casey moved overseas, Shane, who was already dad to Georgia, now 17, convinced her to move back to New Zealand. They were together three years before calling it quits.
The pair both moved on to new relationships – the Commonwealth bronze medallist got married and had another baby, Shane Jr, now eight. But when his marriage ended, Shane found himself reflecting on his past relationships and wanting to make amends to Casey.
Their spark reignited and they have been happily raising a family and building businesses together for five years.
"We definitely haven't had a conventional, plain-sailing relationship, but that's us," exclaims Casey.
In February last year, the couple received an unexpected surprise – they were having a baby. The couple had previously been told they couldn't have children, and though it was disappointing news for someone who always wanted to be a mum, Casey accepted she would be a great stepmum instead.
"I'd been seeing the doctor for two months because I was terribly ill," she recalls. "It didn't cross my mind to do a test. It wasn't until my third appointment that the doctor suggested one just in case – and I was 16 weeks pregnant!
"I was in disbelief for a few days, but as soon as it set in that my dream of becoming a mama was coming true, I was over the moon."
But more surprises were in store. After a day in labour, Casey needed a Caesarean because Kōwhai weighed almost five kilograms.
'It's okay to have bad days and it's also okay to talk about it'
"The only way she was coming out was through the sunroof!" Shane jokes.Adds Casey, "Even though it was a C-section, I'm glad because it meant we were both safe and healthy."
Contines Shane, "I couldn't believe it – the theatre room was the same place her older sister was born 17 years ago!"
Though Casey has been a part of Shane's kids' lives, she admits welcoming her own baby on July 14, 2021, has been a big adjustment.
"It's a huge change for me," she says. "I've just turned 40, so I've lived a lot of my life very self-focused. I haven't had to worry about anyone else but myself."
Fatherhood has also been different for Shane this time around. When his older kids were born, he was still a professional boxer and his life revolved around training and winning the next fight. Now that he's retired from the sport and is his own boss, Shane has much more time to be a doting dad at home and he's loved seeing Kōwhaii's personality develop over the past 11 months.
"She's chill, and she eats and sleeps well like me," tells the smitten dad.
"She's become the gym mascot," adds Casey. "She waves at everyone and when she turns it on, the whole gym stops to pay attention to her."
It has also brought the whole whānau closer.
"The older kids don't live in Auckland, but they adore Kōwhai, so she has connected us in a special way," smiles Casey.
When the Weekly catches up with Shane and Casey, they are in the middle of a typically busy day, keeping on top of their many business ventures. For years, Shane has run his gym, Shane Cameron Fitness, and designed and sold boxing gear through his online store.
And in December last year, inspired by months of training people via Zoom in various lockdowns, Shane launched his own one-stop-shop workout app, Counterpunch Fitness.
When asked how they find balance in their lives, Shane and Casey laugh. "There's no balance," insists Shane.
Casey adds, "It's a massive challenge because of our workload, but we try to remind each other to take time out."
But Casey is quick to add that they are very good at talking about their mental wellbeing and aren't afraid to have the difficult conversations.
"We talk almost daily about our mental health," she tells. "We make a point of checking in on each other.
"There's still a stigma about mental health, especially with masculine, old-school, rural-type guys like Shane. It's a stereotype that we are actively trying to break, for ourselves, but also to show others that it's okay to have bad days and it's also okay to talk about it."
Adds Shane, "If you ask me what my 'why' is, it would be to show that boxers aren't just dumb boxers. They can be successful in and out of the ring," asserts Shane. "I don't have an education, I'm dyslexic, I really struggle with my reading and writing, and I'm ADD. I'm all over the place. But I can really focus and achieve great things when I put my mind to something.
"My motto is 'Life is what you make it', and we are committed to making life great, no matter what it throws at us."

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