By Ronnie Speight
New Zealander, Rocky Lane, commonly known as "Jump Shot Rock", recently responded to a written invitation from the Organisers of the Orlando Open, in Florida, USA to represent New Zealand at this world event, held from August 4th to 8th, 2005. Check out his website to see exactly how this magician got his name www.rockylane.org.
Rocky won one of the 9 Ball events at the Opens, during which he had an exhibition match with Earl Strickland, the many time World Pool Champion. It was a race two frame match, ending with the result of 0/2 to Rocky.
When asked, "It seems you have done another "Michael Campbell" for New Zealand, Mr Lane?" Rocky humbly replied, "Oh no, it was just a lucky match, besides I feel that in an exhibition match the Pro's are inclined to lower their guard, as I do when in practice with other players at the Pool hall. I think , if it was a formal match, I would have had my work cut out, to beat a player of Earl's world standing. After all, he is the Tiger Woods of our sport. The main thing is to get out there and try to take them on. Unless you try, how will you ever know where you stand with your game? " says Rocky.
So who is this man? And where is he from? His real name is Royce W Lane, he was born in Suva, Fiji and his family migrated to New Zealand when he was the tender age of 6 months old. He was raised in a "Walton style Family" environment in the farming community of Hot Water Beach, Whitianga. Here his father was a share milker and with seven mouths to feed, his 40% share of the butter fat equating to ten pounds per week didn't go far. But, they had taken a five year contract and had to make it work. Rocky was educated at Whenuakite School, a mile long walk down the dusty road to the bus stop, then it was onto Glenavon Primary, Blockhouse Bay Intermediate, Lynfield College and the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Following his military service for his country, came a Police career during which time he acquired legal studies, graduated and was elevated to a Prosecutor. He pursued many hobbies including Martial arts, and as a 4th dan black belt acquired a gold medal for New Zealand in the heavy weight karate division of the 1986 Highland games. Following his retirement from active service as a Prosecutor in the late eighties, Rocky began a new life in Hong Kong in 1989 serving as a Legal Consultant for Immigrants, pursuing a better life in a better place; he also extended his expertise to multinationals seeking legal services.
The world of American Pool has risen far above other Cue Sports, and has become a world craze, which began to take off in NZ in the mid 90's. It's now included in the World games, the Asian games and hopefully, soon to be included in the Olympic Games.
The Sport is now turning very professional with greater prize money given out. Winners are getting up to US $200,000 and the top 32 players, in an international tournament with a 256 playing field, receiving US $5000 each. "Like Golf and Boxing, Pool players can now become millionaires inthis professional sport," says Rocky. The mistaken social attitude of Pool being something one does over a drink at the Pub or something kids do whilst wagging school, is long gone.
Rocky trains three days a week, doing around 20 hours per week on the table, and can be seen live at Star Billiards at the Highland Park Mall at Pakuranga, Auckland.
Rocky runs coaching classes for beginners, every Wednesday from 8pm to 10pm, which is FREE to the public. For those, who can't make it to the coaching clinic, you can order the public movie, "POOL - From Beginner to Champion @ 2004", an instructional DVD for beginners from Rocky's website www.rockylane.org. Rocky is now in training and is making his way to the US Opens, to be held in Virginia USA, on September 19th to 26th, 2005. We hope to keep you informed of Rocky's performance while he is away.
Congratulations Rocky for being another Kiwi, getting out there and taking on the big names!!!