5 May, 2023

Boxer eyes national masters title

Royston-based boxer Brendan Manz has an Australian masters heavyweight title in his sights, as he seeks to have a bout lined up at the Gold Coast in August.

Royston boxer Brendan Manz (middle) with sparring partners Jamie Retschlag and Jed Levesconte.
Royston boxer Brendan Manz (middle) with sparring partners Jamie Retschlag and Jed Levesconte.

Brendan said he saw this as something very achievable, after he won his bout in the Masters Boxing Tournament at Caloundra RSL on April 22.

The 48-year-old Brendan won by technical knockout (TKO) in the second round against 55-year-old Juane Iwikau, as the combatants were 115kg.

Representing the Bigfoot Boxing Club, Brendan trained for 16 weeks to be fit and ready for the fight.

Coached by former professional boxer Gavin Sahlqvist, Brendan had many rounds of sparring with two of his fellow club members.

“We did have a game plan but I didn’t get to showcase all my skills,” Brendan said.

“My opponent kept dropping his left hand, and I connected a couple of times with a one-two right hand; a couple of right hooks.

“His coach threw the towel in.”

Brendan said it was “relieving” to win but that he would have liked to fight three rounds.

Without trying to sound contradictory, Brendan said he “felt for my opponent a bit” and that “when you’re in the ring, it’s the hurt game”.

Brendan said all of his emotion and energy went into the fight, and that there was an overwhelming sense of relief when it was all over while he was mentally and physically spent.

Brendan said he couldn’t lift his right arm for several days afterwards, while his life choices had taken a toll on his body over the years.

A refrigeration and air-conditioning mechanic by trade, Brendan also trains horses, and he played AFL for 20 years as he represented Sherwood, Western Districts and Yeronga.

Brendan said he had boxed for about 15 years, initially for fitness purposes before he felt confident enough to compete.

Brendan has had just three amateur bouts, including a walkover as his opponent failed to appear. Brendan’s maiden fight, in 2017, was for a Queensland heavyweight title but he was unsuccessful against an opponent who had won six Queensland titles.

“That’s the way the cookie crumbles,” Brendan said.

For various reasons, Brendan repeatedly found it hard to have fights organised. Sometimes his opponent withdrew, and he was also set back a few years ago when he had a car accident.

When the opportunity arose at the recent Masters Boxing Tournament, Brendan was determined to seize it.

Rather than focus on himself, Brendan said his coach and other members of Bigfoot Boxing Club – particularly the youngsters – deserved a lot of credit after the 16 weeks of preparation.

“The kids watched me go through the program and saw my progress,” he said.

“It builds life skills and discipline, that sort of thing.

“The kids are an inspiration to me, as much as they might find me an inspiration.

“It’s a really good environment to be in.”

Brendan said the win was “gratifying for everyone” at Bigfoot Boxing Club and was “for everyone at the gym, and family and friends”.

“It’s not all about me,” he said.

“The biggest thing is seeing everyone get together, and focus on goals and aspirations.

“Boxing can do that.

“Once you put those gloves on, you never want to take them off.”

Brendan said those who took part at Bigfoot Boxing Club always trained hard and with purpose, while “it’s not for the faint-hearted”.

While saying boxing was “a daunting sport to get into”, Brendan also described it as “good for your mental health”.

“It’s about the people,” he said.

“If I can inspire someone to lose 10kg or conquer a goal, that’s great.”


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