GRASSROOTS footballers from across the Warrnambool region will test their mettle in the boxing ring as part of a multiple-club fund-raiser.
The 10 footballers-turned-boxers will step into the ring at St Pius X Primary School tonight for the second South West Club Contender.
Warrnambool trainer Neil O’Malley has put the boxers through weekly training sessions at his Queen Street gym in preparation for the event.
Organiser Damian “Butch” Smith, of Bang Bang Entertainment, said he hoped 300 people — 50 more than last year — would be ringside.
All 250 pre-sale tickets are sold and 150 more will be available at the door.
The 10 boxers are Sam Lewis, Paul Young and Matt Brauman (Dennington); Jayden Millet, Jayson Millet, Ashley Sumner and Rodney Sumner (East Warrnambool); David Timewell (Russells Creek); Chris Walters (Panmure) and Josh Reichman (Hawkesdale-Macarthur).
Timewell and Walters will face off in the sole “heavyweight” bout, while other match-ups will be finalised today.
“We do try and minimise the wild punches, that’s why we give them two months of training,” Smith said.
“The first thing we try and teach them is how to hold their hands up so no one gets hurt.”
Lewis said he was fighting to follow through on a declaration made while ringside for last year’s South West Club Contender.
His brother Darcy — the Dogs’ senior coach — punched his way to victory in the inaugural event, prompting Sam to say he would sign up this year.
“It was more my sister who said ‘stop being a pussy, you made the call last year’,” he said. “I thought I’d have to do it.”
Lewis said the lead-up training meant he was in the best shape of his life. But he admitted to nerves ahead of his boxing debut. “I just keep messaging a lot of people saying ‘how do you get rid of the nerves’,” he said.
“Darcy did win it last year. It doesn’t bother me either way, but they expect you to go well because he went well. I’m breaking into a sweat thinking about it.”
Reichman, a late inclusion on the card, said he was filling in for clubmate Charlie Nield, who broke a finger. He said he was part of a “battle of the codes” boxing event in Noosa while living in Queensland, finishing with one win and one loss. “I probably wouldn’t do full-on boxing, but I like the training,” he said.
The South West Club Contender starts at 7pm tonight. Bouts feature three 90-second rounds.
The fight card also includes a Victorian Amateur Boxing League bout.