New Zealand Law Society - Fighting for victory: Nelson lawyer Michelle Byczkow

Fighting for victory: Nelson lawyer Michelle Byczkow

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By Elliot Sim

“I thought ‘what have I got to lose aside from some teeth’?” Nelson-based Duncan Cotterill lawyer Michelle Byczkow says about her decision to enter the boxing ring for charity.

The event, Fight for Victory, is scheduled for 4 April, with all money raised going towards Victory Boxing which is a local boxing gym.

The gym is essentially free for children and teaches them about healthy choices, healthy food and exercise and provides them with a safe place to go after school to burn off energy.

Ms Byczkow (boxing name Molotov Mish) will face Crown prosecutor Emma Riddell who she says has a “bit of a height advantage”, but is confident in her game plan to combat Riddell’s reach advantage.

“I’ve been working on my cardio fitness and also focusing on getting the technique right and the co-ordination of the feet and the hands – co-ordination, that’s probably the most worrying thing for me.”


Ms Byczkow says she is a bit nervous about being punched, but has watched the Fight for Life to get some tips.

“Hopefully the headgear will stop any damage to my face; I’ve started getting used to taking hits … plus on the night, I’m sure getting hit will fire me up even more.”

Ms Byczkow says her boss “cracked up” when she told him that she would participating in the charity event.

“They’re really excited and have booked a ring side table so now I’m thinking ‘oh good, all of my colleagues can see me get punched in the face’.

“I have always wanted to be involved in something within the community – to give my time to contribute to a good cause. I love working out and think fitness is an important part of life. These days, too many children go home and sit in front of the TV, or play on a computer or iPad so I think that what Victory Boxing is doing is fantastic,” she says.

The boxers have been training at a local boxing club since 12 January, training twice a week for two hours, doing conditioning and technical work.


Ms Byczkow started practising law in 2012 after graduating from Otago University in 2011.

“I started university doing a science degree. I wanted to be a national geographic film maker, of course.

“I picked up law in my second year of university because all my friends in Carrington were studying it. I thought it sounded really practical for everyday life and some of the debates and discussions they were having sounding really interesting so it thought ‘I’ll give it a go’. I just fell in love with it and really enjoyed it.”

Ms Byczkow says she made a good decision to begin her career at Duncan Cotterill where she was able to have a go at many different areas of the law in order to find her niche. She is now a member of the litigation team.

“There’s so much more responsibility, especially in a provincial town. I was in court on my feet six weeks after I was admitted.

“Surprisingly, I’m actually really enjoying the family law side of things. I didn’t study it at university or expect to be in this area of law.

“I just find that you get so much satisfaction out of helping people in less than ideal circumstances. It’s a good feeling telling a victim of domestic violence that she has a protection order and hearing that relief in her voice, knowing she has that protection. I find that really rewarding at the end of the day,” she says.

This profile was also published in LawTalk 859, 27 February 2015, page 21.

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