WORLD boxing champion Sam Soliman says Warrnambool is fast developing a reputation as a home for sports stars.
Soliman, who uses the city for intense training camps before bouts, will return later this week for another stint, hoping to continue Warrnambool’s growing strike rate for success on the international stage.
He honed his fitness and skills at Warrnambool boxing coach Rodney Ryan’s gym before his breakthrough world title win. During that visit, he was joined by New South Wales fighter Shelley Watts, who claimed Commonwealth Games gold in Glasgow.
“It’s the home of sport,” Soliman said of the city. “Not just boxing but sport, because how many AFL players have come from Warrnambool?
“World championships, Commonwealth Games …Warrnambool has the talent or brings out talent in fighters, footballers and other sports people to achieve their goals. Warrnambool gets the best out of sports people and credit has to go to Rudy Ryan, who does such a great job with lots of different athletes.”
Soliman said he was thrilled to meet and help Watts before achieving her dream of gold in Glasgow.
“I saw Shelley a month or two later and she was doing the stuff I was working on with her,” he said.
“When you see that you get a warm, fuzzy feeling to think you have made an impact on someone.”
Soliman is looking to make an impact on young leukaemia sufferer Ivy Steel on Sunday when he spars 12 rounds against local boxers and personalities to help raise funds for her. He will also lead a sports lunch, which includes a charity auction, at the Flying Horse Bar and Brewery on Sunday.
Soliman is expected to soon announce details of a major fight in America to defend his IBF middleweight title. Soliman was expected to defend his title in a unification bout with Gennady Golovkin following Golovkin’s crushing win over Daniel Geale but he is tipped to clash with a different opponent.