by Rory Hession
IT'S been a while coming but, for the first time in years, Maranoa Boxing Club has its fighters back competing for sporting glory.
Seven fighters will compete on the weekend in the Queensland novice championships at Mount Gravatt, in Brisbane.
They are: Brendan Shanley (elite novice 75kg division); Donna Jamieson (elite novice 81kg); Dylan Caston (sub-junior novice 66kg); Lance Godfrey (junior novice 66kg); Olivia Fleming (school kids 32kg); Dusty Schubert (school kids 42kg); and Blayde Dudgeon (school kids 36 under).
Popular films like Rocky and The Fighter have immortalised boxing as a gruelling test of preparation and will power and, for Maranoa's "magnificent seven”, this has become all too real.
"Both the adult fighters and younger fighters train along very similar programs here at the Maranoa boxing club,” Donna Jamieson said.
"Typically, training sessions for the kids involve up to two-hour training sessions four nights a week while the adult fighters train up to two and a half hours, also four nights a week.
"The sessions are not easy, they're difficult and we all need to urge each other on but the process is rewarding and the result is what we're working towards.”
For the championships, depending on the availability of opponents, each fighter is required to beat a number of opponents on both days to take home a medal.
Due to the intense nature and frequency in which the seven will fight during the weekend, head coach Dick Schubert and boxing coach Jessica Morgan organised training sessions to prepare them as well as possible.
"Although sessions varied, Dick would have us start by doing eight figure eight laps of the PCYC; which involved running around the main complex and up and down stairs,” Brendan Shanley said.
"After this and perhaps with some sprints thrown in, we'd make our way up to the gym where we'd start skipping, do a bike workout and then move onto step-ups.
"We'd also do a lot of punching work: from punch ups, rounds of bags, pad work, sparring and then to warm down we'd finish with 100 push ups and sit ups - that was a pretty normal training sessions.”
Shanley said without knowing the opponents they were facing until the day, cardio preparation was their secret weapon.
"Cardio is definitely going to help in our fights over the weekend: fitness is the key strength in fighting and something Dick has prepared us for over the previous months,” he said.
"There are many things important like striking and foot work but when you don't know your opponent, fitness is going to help us read the situation and adapt to who we fight.”
However, the seven maintained that their biggest strength was the close relationships they had forged with one another.
"There are a lot of clubs out there that have so many people on their roster you can see them all line up on the basketball court for training and they don't even know each other,” Lance Godfrey said.
"The difference is that we do and we get along with one another and understand each fighter well.”
Godfrey said that the close-knit nature of the club was evident in how far they had come in a short period of time.
"When we first started with Dick, we were all struggling - my shirt was constantly saturated and many of us felt like being sick when we finished each day,” he said.
"Now we can all run the strenuous cardio workout like the figure eights and sprints and instead of doing them to get us fit, they are just a basic warm-up now.
"We're fitter, more resilient and stronger and faster than we were when we started those months ago and that's largely due to urging each other on.”
Schubert had high praise for his fighters and said he couldn't be prouder of what they had achieved in preparing for the competition weekend.
"We're a family here, that's the best way I can put it and over the months that bond has gotten stronger and stronger,” he said.
"I think these fighters have put in a brilliant effort and I couldn't ask any more of them even if I tried.
"I think we have a real chance to bring home some medals this weekend and I don't say that lightly at all.”
Schubert said after the fights and a period of down time for the competitors, he looked forward to stepping up the training regime another notch.
"I've got a few ideas for after the fights and I think they all know we can always push a little harder and do a bit more to make them that much better in competition to come.”