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Saturday, 28 February 2009

Sean Sullivan working for feared Auckland gang the Headhunters.?

20:01 |

Sean Sullivan used to fight for big paydays in the ring now he's battling to recover other people's debts.And the 40-year-old, who pushed two-time world super middleweight champion Anthony Mundine to the wire in their 2003 fight this week revealed to Sunday News he's finally throwing in the towel on his 18-year career.
The never-say-die fighter's decision comes almost nine years after doctors and the boxing fraternity first suggested it."I don't want to make some big announcement but realistically I've got to the stage where the money really isn't there any more," Sullivan said."You don't want to price yourself out of the market ... but I don't really go looking for fights any more and I guess I'm happy to say I'm calling it a day. I have retired."Sullivan was initially reluctant to confirm his new occupation to Sunday News."Don't mention the debt collection to be honest," he said.
The father-of-two feared the admission would only fuel speculation he's working for feared Auckland gang the Headhunters."The boys in blue think I'm prospecting for the Headhunters," he said."I've never, ever, ever, been interested in joining any gang. And I've never prospected for any gang, or been interested in it. I wish they (police) would just get their facts right.
"As soon as you go to that gym (the Headhunters boxing gym in Ellerslie, Auckland) they say you're associated with the Headhunters and ... you're involved with organised crime. That's not me."

Sullivan admitted he had previously, inadvertently, worked with some Headhunters doing debt collection for former employer Kimball Johnson an underworld heavy turned country and western singer known as the "enforcer" who died of cancer in 2007.
"A couple of the lads that worked for Kimball probably associated with the gang.
"So that's where it's fallen into place for the police. But as I said, I'm virtually a gang of one and that's me."Johnson was a highly respected underworld figure.
His coffin was carried to his funeral in March by Headhunters and a death notice was placed by "all the brothers from Paremoremo Maxi and west" and signed by a Hell's Angels member.Sullivan, like Johnson, has found himself on both sides of the law.For just over two years Sullivan was a police youth worker in Mangere but his provisional contract was not extended in 2003 after police took issue with who he was associating with. Some of his boxing supporters were gang members.He then started working for Johnson.Last year Sullivan was acquitted along with another debt collector of kidnapping a car dealer and trying to extort $21,700 from him.He is currently before the courts on fraud charges. In July 2007, another newspaper reported Sullivan was a Housing New Zealand Corporation (HNZC) tenant who was sub-letting his taxpayer subsidised Mangere home for a $77 a week profit.It was claimed Sullivan who owned a holiday home in Russell at the time paid $133 a week for the state house, despite not being eligible to have one in the first place, and charged his tenants $210 a week.When the tenants allegedly applied for a state house and were told they were already living in one. Sullivan said he could not comment on the HNZC case, as it was before the courts.HNZC told Sunday News Sullivan faces two charges of using a document with intent to defraud between 2000 and 2005. HNZC is seeking $34,422 from him and the case is back in court next month.Sullivan said the kidnapping and extortion case should have never made it to court."I was found not guilty like I should have been from day one. (It) ruined my life for that period. I was on bail for two and a half years. They took my passport away so I couldn't travel. And I was tarnished with that brush."Sullivan told Sunday News he was a "very successful" debt-collector and operated by "word of mouth".He said he got "a lot of (debt collecting) skills from Kimball and some of his colleagues".But he said he did the job by the book not by bashing people into submission."It's knowing how to put payments in place and organising time arrangements and stuff like that," he said."Sometimes you've just got to pursue it and just not give up."In a death-bed interview in March 2007, Johnson talked openly about his method of collecting debts.
In one incident he bought a $17,000 debt off an elderly couple who appeared on TV show Fair Go, then hunted down the conman. When he refused to pay, Johnson beat him to a pulp hitting the man with a chair until it broke, then used two others.Johnson who also told the interviewer he once bit someone's ear off in a fight was charged with causing grievous bodily harm but the charge was dropped when his victim failed to appear in court.Sullivan said he had got into doorstep fights with debt-collection clients. But that only happened when he was repossessing chattels such as fridges, washing machines and beds something he no longer does."I don't mind repossessing someone's car because they can just catch public transport to work. They can walk to work, they can cycle to work, or whatever," he said."But when you're taking someone's fridge or freezer, that's what they use to feed their families and it's harder ... the old heart rules the head."Sullivan has a five centimetre scar on his left cheek from "some no-neck" who attacked him during a job."I went around there with my boss from the finance company and this gentlemen tried to attack the boss so I stepped in to help him and (the debtor) put my head through a window it came out the other side," he said."I recovered from that and I think he wished he never attacked the boss after that. It was more than just a knockout. But the writing was on the wall after that ... no more chattels."Sullivan, who when Sunday News met him looked more like a suburban dad on holiday in velcro rubber sandals, three-quarter shorts and T-shirt than the brawling boxer he's known as, said he has been "more blessed than most" in his fight career.He has previously held the light-heavyweight, super-middleweight, welterweight and middleweight national titles and been ranked as high as No7 in the world's welterweight division by the World Boxing Association and the International Boxing Federation.
He pushed world-ranked Danny Green so hard in 2004 that the Australian had to be hospitalised after the fight.Green had to have three litres of intravenous fluid to counteract the dangerous dehydration and exhaustion he got trying to knock out Sullivan, who is known for his extreme fitness and always finishing bouts on his feet."There's a lot of `what ifs' and `what could of beens'. A world title bout would have been great, but I fought Mundine and Green," he said."I fought for the Commonwealth title, and I had a month to lose two stone and I did it. I went over there and I won the fight. So I've done alright."But Sullivan has not won a fight since 2003 and could not remember his boxing record or who his opponents were in his last two fights at the Headhunters Fight Nights in May and December 2007."I just lined up, got in there and did the business. They gave me a week's notice, but I'm not exactly going to say no to WD (Headhunters boss Wayne Doyle)," he said. "I wasn't in the best shape. I was drinking beer and enjoying life."Sullivan was warned to quit boxing as early as 2000 after collapsing in a post-bout sauna.Former trainer Karl Turner had to resuscitate the fighter, who had stopped breathing and had no pulse.Later that year, a neuropsychologist recommended Sullivan never enter the ring again. Tests concluded that his brain function was abnormal.Sullivan who still coaches continued to fight. But Father Time looks like it has at last beaten arguably the toughest fighter to ever come out of New Zealand. Or maybe not!"I'm not fussed about fighting but if I get a good offer and they give me time to prepare ... it'll be on."

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