Leading Border boxers had the opportunity to learn from one of Australia’s best fighters in their own backyard.
Decorated national star Paul Fleming made his way down to the region on the weekend to provide the homegrown talent one-on-one boxing sessions at Border Boxing Club and Boos Boxing.
Many of the fighters used their time with Fleming to prepare for the upcoming Victorian Amateur Boxing League bout at Wodonga Racecourse on May 26.
Among them is 15-year-old Conor O’Brien who had his first fight at Bondi last month, while Jack Mitchelson is also hoping to get a match on the night.
Border Boxing Club owner Matthew Friswell was blown away by Fleming’s effort.
“He drove down on Friday through that horrific rainstorm with his heavily-pregnant wife Bianca and started on Saturday morning at 7.30,” Friswell said.
“He was doing one-on-one sessions with local fighters from Border Boxing Club and Boss Boxing, as well as some other fighters from around the area.
“He did that all day until 5.30 where we started a group seminar and we finished off with a community barbecue where everyone got the chance to meet Paul, hold his title belts and listen to his stories.
“He went to Corey Pyle’s gym (Boss Boxing) in Wodonga to do some more one-on-ones on Sunday morning up until about lunchtime.”
Fleming is regarded not only as one of the best in Australia, but also around the world.
The 30-year-old has represented Australia internationally on multiple occasions as an amateur, taking on the best in the business to claim bronze at the world championships.
Fleming made the national team for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 before he was signed by Bob Arum at Top Rank – which promotes Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto, becoming the first Australian to be picked up by the company.
“Having someone with that sort of pedigree to motivate our guys and share stories was just amazing,” Friswell added.
“Having him spend the time to develop their skills from a world standard was incredible.
“The guys got a lot out of the fact they didn’t just jump in the car and go to the big smoke, he came to us in our neighbourhood.
“I think it says a lot about the community of boxing.
“Often it gets a bad name as a ‘thug sport’, but when you look at the people who are involved, they’re some of the nicest in the world.”
Fleming is keen to return to the Border, with plans to set up an Indigenous boxing program for the region.
“We’re trying to get people involved from a health point-of-view to work on the Closing the Gap initiative,” Friswell said.