NATHAN MacLean isn’t sure what head space he’d be in had he not sought the help of Warrnambool boxing coach Rodney “Rude” Ryan late last year.
He pinpoints the guidance of Ryan as instrumental in helping him turn his life around. The contrast between who he was and who he’s become is stark.
For MacLean, all it took was an email to Ryan, asking if he could join his gym. The email was a way of acknowledging “my life wasn’t in a good spot then”. The lifestyle changes that followed were near-immediate. He started spending hours in the ring to build fitness and technique.
“I swapped my life around in one day (when) I inboxed Rude. He said ‘we’re going to start now’,” MacLean said.
Fast forward 10 months and MacLean, who turns 22 on Saturday, is as fit and disciplined as he’s ever been. He has a girlfriend and is three weeks into a job with Midfield Meat.
His boxing career has hit a new high, too — victory in his first fight, a 91-kilogram bout against Kole Karavias over three two-minute rounds on Sunday.
His performance, as part of the Italian Sports Club of Werribee 2014 Cup, earned him the boxer of the day honours and praise from world champion Sam Soliman.
“Seven months ago Rude told me ‘I’m 100 per cent sure you won’t fight’. I proved him wrong,” MacLean said.
Ryan was gladly proved wrong. He recalled the conversation as “a watershed moment”. “He was going OK but he was not quite getting what I was saying and wasn’t understanding the consequences of training hard, all the things we try to teach,” Ryan said.
“There was one day in particular I snapped at him ‘you’re not getting this, you’ve got to train properly’. That was a watershed moment.
“I said ‘if you don’t do it properly you 100 per cent won’t fight’. He obviously got it together.”
MacLean’s father Gary has also watched with pride as his son made headway in the ring. The people MacLean trains with have become somewhat of a second family.”
“With the boxing side of it, it’s given him discipline, a real focus on getting fit and training. It’s been good for his well-being,” Gary said.
“The whole thing is Nathan has found himself around a good group of people who are obviously pretty caring. That was really evident on Sunday.
“I’ve been into cricket and footy all my life but to watch the other fighters get as much enjoyment out of him having a win, it really showed it’s a team thing.” MacLean was one of five south-west boxers who fought at Werribee on Sunday.
Jye Clark was the only other Ryan-trained boxer to emerge victorious.
Bianca Slater was unlucky to lose a close bout while Chris Dendle and Greg Bell also suffered defeats but, like MacLean, are still finding their feet in the sport.
Jyl Wright, trained by Koroit-based Lyndon Edney, also lost his bout against a much more experienced opponent.