IN HIS own words, giving up alcohol and switching his focus to strengthening his body was the best thing Matt Barton ever did.
Couple that with a strict training regimen – as a boxer – and suddenly, his life had discipline, and something to work towards.
Weeks of training came to a head for Barton when he emerged victorious from his first fight in a bout at the Tasmanian Golden Gloves event a week and a half ago.
His sparring partner, and fellow Rudy’s Boxing fighter Brad Rogers – who lost 80kg in an effort to be ready for competition – also tasted success.
“I always wanted to do it when I was younger, but I was never committed enough,” Barton said.
“I gave up drinking about 15 months ago – I just gave it away completely. It was the best thing I ever did. I got 100 per cent into training and into my health and fitness.
“I knew I wanted to fight when I was younger, but I’d train hard throughout the week and get to the weekend and all the hard work would go down the drain.”
Barton, 28, said he’d lost 20kg since devoting his time to boxing and had totally changed his lifestyle.
He said a focus on training meant he’d matured as a person.
“After three or four months, I just felt completely different. Once I got a bit of self control and gave up alcohol, I thought I’d come and give it a crack. Your whole outlook on everything just changes,” Barton said.
“When you’re young, if you’re drinking every weekend and partying, you don’t have a chance to mature.
“It got the point when I thought’d I’d go to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings. It sounds silly because the people are strangers, but I knew I had to get it on track because I didn’t want to let those people down.
“That was it though, that was the real turning point.”
For Rogers, hitting 160kg and being a father to a young family was the catalyst for change.
What started as a “way to lose weight” morphed into a love and passion.
"There was a period for six months where I lost 3kg per week,” he said.
“For me, it was about just cutting the junk food out. Getting rid of the sugar, chocolates and lollies. I just knew that I had to get the body right because I was on track to have a heart attack by the time I was 40.
“Originally, it was just to the lose the weight, but I’ve fallen in love with the sport since then. I love training alongside the kids, they’re the real story of what happens here.”
Rogers said he began training at 6am each day, and put in an hour-long high-intensity workout.