A PAIR of northern suburbs amateur boxers hope to prove their weight in gold as they lace up for an Olympic Games qualifier.
Clarkson resident Kirra Ruston (21) and Butler teenager Charlie Senior (18) are part of the national team who will head overseas next month for the Asia/Oceania Olympic Qualification competition for Tokyo 2020.
The pair will be part of a team of 13 athletes representing Australia at the competition in Jordan from March 3 to 11.
That competition was originally planned to take place in Wuhan, China this month February, but the International Olympic Committee announced in late January it would be rescheduled and relocated to the Middle Eastern country due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Ruston and Senior, who have become good friends through the sport, both train at Lacey’s Boxing Gyms and were selected for the national team after winning their divisions last year.
Ruston won his first national title in the 75kg middle weight division in December as well as being named boxer of the tournament, having been the state champion since he started boxing about six years ago.
“The feeling of winning is indescribable; I just hugged every person I saw,” he said.
“It was always a dream and to have it come true was over the top.
“Any other year it was just national championships – this was for the Olympics.
“My long-term goal was always to take it to the Olympics; that’s the highest level of sport that you can aspire to.”
Senior started boxing when he was 11 years old because he saw a boxing gym near where he was doing dancing.
Last year he won the national 57kg feather weight division, having won three national youth titles previously, and secured his place as the youngest athlete in the national team.
“My greatest achievement would have been last nationals, the one that we just won; the one that got me on the team and got me flying around the world internationally at such a young age,” he said.
“Everyone was cheering; I felt I had accomplished what I set out to do.
“Hopefully I make it to the Olympics and win the first gold medal for Australia in boxing.”
Both Ruston and Senior felt confident ahead of the qualifier, having travelled to India for training last month and to the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra this week.
“Having two boxers out of the same home gym is really rare,” Ruston said.
“It’s awesome that we get to be together for the whole trip.”
While nervous about his first international fight, Senior was confident he could place in the top four to qualify for the Olympic team.
“I feel really good; I feel fit and I feel on fire,” he said.
Lacey’s owner and the men’s coach Justin Lacey said their wins were well-deserved and he was proud of both boxers.
“They really do work hard for what they have earned,” he said.
“They have become successful for all the hard yards.
“They are not doing it for money; they are doing it for love of the sport and they are the same level of guys who are doing it for millions of dollars.”
Lacey said their success would inspire other young athletes at the clubs who had similar traits and potential to do well in the sport.
“I think these boys are going to be very hard to beat in Australia for a long time,” he said.
“What these boys are about to do at this level is the most exciting boxing you will ever see I think.”
Senior said he loved the atmosphere of competitions as well as training daily.
“Getting in that ring, fighting – it’s the worst but the best feeling possible,” he said.
“When you go in, you are really nervous but as soon as the bell rings, it all goes.”
Ruston said he enjoyed the competition of the sport as well as the fitness aspects.
“It’s definitely a sport you want to be good at, not bad at,” he said.
“You are putting your body on the line.
“Learning how to lose is really important as well; to be able to take it and use it as fuel.”
Ruston said he tried judo and mixed martial arts before deciding to focus on boxing.
“Once I picked boxing, I fell in love with it and couldn’t go back to anything else,” he said.
The pair said they were looking for sponsors to help their Olympic journey.