Danny Green and Greg Hire up for WA Australian of the Year awards

Greg Hire.
Greg Hire.

THEY are two local athletes who wear their hearts on their sleeves.

So it’s little wonder the passionate approach they take to sport is replicated in the empathy they show beyond the arena.

Perth Wildcats basketballer Greg Hire, of Edgewater, and pro boxer Danny Green, a gym owner in Warwick and Joondalup, have been nominated as finalists in the WA Australian of the Year Awards on Wednesday night.

Danny Green. Picture: Martin Kennealey

Green is up for the top gong, having fervidly pushed campaign against the coward’s punch in the hope of reducing impulsive violence.

The champion boxer travels the country speaking mainly to those most prone to reckless aggression – young men.

A furious voice in the media when he hears of a coward’s punch attack, his stern approach is fuelled by experiences of speaking with families who have lost loved ones.

“To ring a complete stranger when they are suffering the worst, most traumatic moment that they are ever going to experience and have to cold-call them, it’s really difficult for me,” he told ABC News last year.

Hire is vying for WA Young Australian of the Year after setting up his charity A Stitch in Time, which raises money for Youth Focus, three years ago.

Hire, who was “very honoured” to have received the nomination, spends much of his time off the court mentoring youngsters who are experiencing hardship.

At the launch of A Stitch in Time in 2014, he explained his motivation.

“Every week, young people take their own lives because it’s a more preferable option than living with the pain and despair of poor mental health,” he said.

“It only takes one person to have an impact and change their lives, and I want to be that person.”

Hire draws inspiration from the children he meets.

Earlier this year, he used his column in this newspaper to recall a story of a young fan with cancer.

“What I saw in the hospital was an 11-year-old boy standing tall in an adult world,” he wrote.

“He showed me that maturity and bravery is not exclusive to adults.”

Hire is up against humanitarian Jeffrey Effendi, human rights advocate Rahila Haidary and Matildas star Sam Kerr.

Green is grouped with child cancer expert Nick Gottardo, disabilities advocate Jaqueline Mills and psychologist Tracy Westerman.