In this story
Our dad never boxed. No one in the family did. Me and my brother [twin, Andrew], when we were 13, we were playing footy and we just thought we’d take up another sport during the off-season, had a go at boxing and fell in love with it. By the time we were 16, we started competing.
Naturals? I don’t know about that. I lost my first three fights. But when you’re that passionate about something and want to be good at it, you put in the hard work, and the hard work will pay off.
A footy player can play footy every week, but I don’t think you’d want to be fighting every week. You couldn’t possibly do it. It’s a pretty taxing sport. We had six fights last year. Every two months we fought. That’s a pretty busy year. You get some fighters who maybe have only two or three fights a year. So six is a pretty good effort.
A lot of preparation goes into each fight. You might train eight or 10 weeks for that one fight, twice a day, six days a week. Strength and conditioning or running in the mornings, and then boxing in the afternoons. There’s a lot of build-up. You are pretty drained at the end of it.
The battle with the scales is the first one you need to win. You need to fight in as low a weight class as you can possibly make. I fight at super bantamweight, which is 55.3 kilos. But a week after a fight, I’m walking around at 62, 63 kilos. That’s eight kilos above what I fought at just a week previously. In the eight weeks before a fight, I’ll diet really strictly, eat nothing but clean foods, and try to hold as low a body fat as possible.
Even when I’m holding hardly any body fat, I’m still probably four kilos over my fight weight. So then it comes down to really cutting back your portions, really depleting yourself. Then before the weigh-in, you’ll dehydrate yourself, lose maybe one-and-a-half, two kilos, and just do whatever it takes to get down to your fight weight.
You might put four or five kilos back on between weighing in and stepping into the ring. Once you step off those scales, yeah, you’ve got 24 hours to recover and rehydrate and refuel and put as much weight as possible back on. And you’ll hopefully enter the ring feeling 100 per cent and get some sort of advantage over your opponent in terms of strength and size. That’s just part of the sport. And once you’ve won the battle with the scales, you need to win the fight.
Any sport where you rely on judges, there’s going to be controversy. It’s not like running, where you can clearly see who’s crossed the line first. The judges have got to make a decision there and then, and it’s not always an easy job. In the amateurs, there’s definitely people who are judging fights and determining the direction of your career and they don’t know enough about boxing. But I don’t tend to think of it as a dirty sport, no.
Look, I’ve had a few decisions against me that I don’t agree with. Generally during a fight you can tell if you’re winning or losing, and I’ve had some pretty bad decisions against me that have really affected my career, at least when I was in the amateurs.
Of course, the person who loses a close fight is going to feel hard done by. But there were definitely fights in the amateurs where I’ve had no doubt in my mind that I’ve done enough to win, and the decision goes against you. I don’t know if that’s corruption or just incompetent judging.
Boxing is still huge in America and the UK. They are selling out shows every week. It’s not really anywhere near as big as we’d like it to be in Australia. It doesn’t get the coverage on TV or in the newspapers that it does overseas. But the people that do support it here love
the sport and will never leave it. I don’t think boxing will ever die.
It’s a great sport for kids to be involved in. Maybe parents get the wrong idea about it. They think it’s got this thuggish mentality and it’s just guys trying to hurt one another. It is a violent sport, a combat sport – but it’s done a lot for a lot of people, too, in terms of giving them some direction and goals and focus, rather than causing trouble.
• Rugby union: World Sevens Series
Saturday, from 9.30am (final Sunday, 6.51pm, AEDT), Allianz Stadium, Sydney
• Tennis: Davis Cup – Australia v Czech Republic
Saturday, midday; Sunday, 11am (AEDT), Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, Melbourne
• Soccer: W-League semi-final – Perth Glory v Sydney FC
Saturday, 3.30pm (AWST), Nib Stadium, Perth
• Cycling: Jayco Herald Sun Tour, stage 4
Sunday, 12.30pm (AEDT), Kinglake, Victoria
• AFLW: Melbourne v Brisbane Lions
Sunday, 5.05pm (AEDT), Casey Fields, Cranbourne East, Victoria
• American football: Super Bowl 51 – New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons
Monday, 10.30am (AEDT), NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on February 4, 2017 as "The bantam menace".
For almost a decade, The Saturday Paper has published Australia’s leading writers and thinkers. We have pursued stories that are ignored elsewhere, covering them with sensitivity and depth. We have done this on refugee policy, on government integrity, on robo-debt, on aged care, on climate change, on the pandemic.
All our journalism is fiercely independent. It relies on the support of readers. By subscribing to The Saturday Paper, you are ensuring that we can continue to produce essential, issue-defining coverage, to dig out stories that take time, to doggedly hold to account politicians and the political class.
There are very few titles that have the freedom and the space to produce journalism like this. In a country with a concentration of media ownership unlike anything else in the world, it is vitally important. Your subscription helps make it possible.
Select your digital subscription