Thursday, June 13, 2024

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HomeIssue 7Off the streets to box in Darwin

Off the streets to box in Darwin


The Arrernte Community Boxing Academy is set to head to Darwin this Thursday for their first competitive fights of the year.

On the back of work to “help kids with getting off the streets,” Jason Lord of the ACBA says that “the competition aspect is what we are trying to get into”.

A former Territory state champion himself who has represented Australia in overseas tournaments, Jason understands that boxing can help kids “get on the road to a better life”.

And he’s already seen the improvements in the lives of some of the young men involved in the academy.

“We’ve had kids go from falling through the cracks to having apprenticeships and traineeships.”

The work of expanding the academy takes money, when the news spoke with Mr Lord on Sunday morning, the ACBA was in the midst of a fundraising campaign to fund some of the costs for the trip next weekend.

As pint-sized fighters showed off some menacing moves on the pads, the smell of barbecue wafted through the Coles carpark.

Shoppers forked out over $700 dollars for the academy. Mr Lord this will well and truly cover the petrol to Darwin and that it is “awesome to see local support.”

Outside of sausage sizzling, the boxing initiative has also received support from other local businesses over the past month or so.

Mr Lord says that he thinks the credibility that the ACBA is beginning to hold in the community means people think their money is being put to good use.

The ACBA is seeing over 100 individuals per week come to their daily workouts on Kent Road and works on the three pillars of “culture, care and control”.

On this trip, sub-junior fighters Nate Mason and brothers Ziggy and Kevin Tiltsen-Collins are set to enter the ring for the first time.

Another possible first time fighter is Kevin Collins, father of the young Tiltsen-Collins combo, who is awaiting news on whether he will have an opponent to fight on the night.

“This would be my first fight with them,” says Mr Collins while standing with his son Kevin, “he inspired me.”

Not fighting for the first time is 16 year-old Reese Curtis-Stanton, the current 17 and under Territory state champion of the welterweight division.

Mr Curtis-Stanton says that he was going to play football but once he started boxing at the academy it has become his sole sporting focus.

Also along for the trip will be the young but experienced Alex Lewis, a 13 year old fighting for the fifth time.

Both Mr Lord and Mr Curtis-Stanton say that there is little known about opponents in these types of fights before you arrive, but Mr Curtis-Stanton says that his tactics are usually to “feel them out in the first round” and then attack from there.

Recent history shows this has been a good tactic for the young boxer.


  1. All the contact sports, the Rugby codes, the AFL and others have recognised the blunt truth. Concussion is permanent brain injury.
    Repeated trauma without concussion, such as being punched in the head, also causes brain injury.
    Rugby players have recently taken out a law suit against administrators for long term brain damage.
    And yet we continue to have this activity. Young people being encouraged to brain damage their opponents.
    And that is just the physical damage.
    The other part of it is teaching young people that something can be “won” by punching someone else in the face.
    Anyone involved in this brain damage of children would be wise to check their insurance cover.

  2. @ Charlie Carter. With due respect. You take a simplistic and narrow view of “the manly art of self defence”. In the cold hard reality of life, there will always be, and I repeat, always be people who want to cause you or me or the the next person physical harm.
    As often as not, the form that the physical harm will take is a punch on the nose. An age old form of anger driven harm. And if you have ever been punched on the nose you will know that the punch knocks your mental and emotional compass to billy-o.
    The urge to strike out blindly in retaliatory anger is almost instantaneous.
    Boxing, as taught by the great master coaches like Johnny Lewis and youth club and police boys club coaches in Alice and around the country teaches you basic principles (1) how to keep your cool in a disorienting painful situation (2) how to recover and defend yourself with skill to avoid further attack (3) how to build physical and mental strength within yourself to stay calm, to have confidence in yourself and respect for others.
    A favourite training routine used by Johnny Lewis with Kostya Tszyu was the following.
    Kostya would stand in the middle of the ring with two experienced boxers, one on either side within a metre.
    The bell would ring and Johnny would spin Kostya around in a circle as fast as he could spin for 90 seconds, half the time of a normal round.
    At the half way mark the bell would ring and Johnny would stop spinning him. Whichever boxer was facing him could then star throwing punches and Kostya would have to defend himself until the end of the round.
    That is the ultimate test. And that replicates real life. How to survive, disciplined, under extreme physical pressure. Without losing control, without doing your nana.
    Whether you get hit in the head of not. And that’s real life, mate. And will be until the end of human civilisation. Whether you or I like it or not.

  3. Well done John. In about 300 words you have completely avoided any mention of the issue: Brain damage to children.
    In my 75 years, to the best of my recollection, I have never been punched on the nose.
    Nor have I punched anyone on the nose.
    I have lived a pretty full life, including an all boys rural boarding school.
    Perhaps it has something to do with my attitude to violence.

  4. OK Charlie, on the matter of brain damage to children how about this.
    To be any good at boxing and not to raise the ire of the coaches, more time is put into teaching these kids about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle than getting hit, or hitting.
    Without boxing many of these kids could possibly be into drinking, smoking or smoking dope, all of which would have far more consequences than the occasional punch in the well padded head of these kids.
    What you are referring to is the well publicised brain injuries that have occurred to mainly elite level athletes, the acquired brain injuries that have occurred to footballers and some boxers, Ali being the most famous.
    Why not call into the gym one day to prove your theory correct? Speak to Jason himself, or any of his trainers who have been boxing for most of their lives, and try and discern any obvious signs of brain injury.
    I know Jason and many of the other boxers around town quite well and can’t recall any with signs of brain injury that is noticeable.
    So considering how long these kids have been boxing for, if these injuries occurred as frequently as you say there would be thousands of people walking around with blunt trauma induced brain injuries.
    It simply does not happen to the extent you would have us believe.
    There is risk in everything we do, however these risks are tightly controlled in boxing.
    The rewards in setting these kids on the right track far outweigh the possibility or the frequency of these brain injuries you mention.
    The majority of the training is strength and conditioning, speed and stamina, respect for self and others, and then some well protected light sparring.
    If they are as common as you say, you must have come across quite a few examples of people with brain injuries from boxing in your seventy five years. How many can you name? Any?
    Unfortunately, whenever a story about boxing is published, you come out with the negativity of some information you have heard about somewhere, in some non-cited study.
    Why not enquire with the families of these kids and find out how there lives went from being off the rails to dedication thanks to programs like this, and at the same time see how much brain damage has occurred? I think your argument will be shot to pieces.

  5. @ Ray: You make excellent points. Have had many chats over the years with boxing coaches at the AIS like Bodo and sports medicine doctors connected with the AIS and Olympic boxing. And with the master coach himself, Johnny Lewis.
    They confirm that the major emphasis in amateur boxing – and reputable professional coaches – is the protection of the athlete from brain injury.
    An eminent Irish Olympic coach who worked with the AIS in the 1990s and who himself was Irish national amateur boxing champion in the 1980s told me numerous times that medical studies he had been involved in showed that brain injury in boxers was remarkably lower incidence than in other body contact sports.
    Like you say, those who have adopted the popular negative narrative should spend a week in say a state academy gym or a reputable youth gym observing the coaches and the athletes they train.
    I bet a million bucks they will come away with a different, more informed opinion, of the training methods and the duty of care ethos.

  6. Do the lads wear helmets when boxing? I assume they do. I hope so.
    Charlie raises a good point about brain injury, worth thinking about, given that boxing is one of the few sports where whacking someone in the face is the main object.
    Are kids brains more susceptible? I would think they probably are given they are still growing.
    Yet on the other hand, boxing academies like this can be good for young people, if they are run by good role models, and it sounds as if this one is.
    I use Facebook to follow an ex-student of mine who is involved with this group, I am impressed with the effort and consistency they put into their training.
    Personally I would rather they were involved in a less violent sport, but this is better than roaming the streets at a loose end.

  7. @ Ian Sharp: Sharpie, amateur boxing is one of the strictest regulated sports there is.
    A sport where a referee is at all times within a metre of two contestants.
    Amateur Olympic boxers wear protective head-guards.
    Referees have sole power to call an end to a bout the moment the referee assesses that one of the combatants is unable to continue to keep throwing punches or hold hands up sufficiently to defend himself or herself.
    It is a far better monitored sport for safety than any footy code and most other physical contact sports.

  8. John, Ray, Ian. I am full of admiration for people who run programs that help fitness, discipline, health and getting at-risk kids “back on the rails”.
    But why boxing? Other alternatives that come to mind are gymnastics, athletics, basketball and table tennis.
    Or, if the one-on-one contest is important, what about wrestling? Proper stuff, not TV crap.
    I am sure that amateur boxing does its best to minimise injury, but it can’t stop it. As Ian notes “whacking someone in the face is the main object”.
    As for brain injury only happening at “elite levels” I suggest that they are the ones we hear about,
    John and Ray, you have a very naïve idea of scientific evidence. I certainly would not expect to see “thousands of people walking around with brain injuries”.
    For a start I can’t diagnose someone by walking past them.
    And I would have no knowledge of their background.
    It is only fairly recently that scientific evidence has accumulated proving the links between sport head trauma and brain injury, but the more data collected, the more evident it is, and surprisingly more widespread.
    Also it often shows up many years later.
    I didn’t make up the story of the Rugby lawsuits.
    The actions taken by the AFL, NRL and Cricket are not something I have “heard about somewhere”.
    My interest is in stopping brain damage to children (and adults).
    And, of course, the brain damaged “elite” start off somewhere.

  9. @ Charlie Carter. Brain injury is a relative term. The risk of induced injury to any part of the brain exists in every waking moment in so many different elements of our daily lives. Alcohol and drug abuse is a commonly known cause. “The science” shows that.
    One that sneaks under the radar and is poo-pooed by the modern generation is excessive mobile phone use and sitting in front of a computer screen all day and night.
    “The science” jury is still out on that because young people simply don’t want to accept this overwhelming IT impact on their sedentary lives.
    So. Back to boxing. Especially in troubled teenage years. Offers a magnificent, challenging, disciplined, physical and mental alternative to alcohol, drugs, dungeons-and-dragons, indoors, stoop-backed lifestyle.
    In the end, it is all about one’s chosen quality of life.
    So, mate, I’ll go with boxing and its coaches and its inherent risks every time. To coin a phrase, hope you aren’t too shocked by the outrageous expression, it’s a “no-brainer”.


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