When doc­tors said they couldn’t save his leg, Tino Ierome had to give up his dreams. Then he put on his gloves and started fight­ing back

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - RELATIVE VALUES - AMANDA WATT

I drive fork­lifts full­time for a trans­port com­pany but I also do box­ing train­ing five days a week be­cause my dream is to be­come a pro­fes­sional boxer. My coach says I’ve got the po­ten­tial to make it. Ap­par­ently when I’m spar­ring in the gym, other peo­ple stop what they’re do­ing and watch. I guess they’re cu­ri­ous about how I can keep my bal­ance when I’ve only got one leg.

My left leg was am­pu­tated be­low the knee five years ago af­ter a rugby league ac­ci­dent. I was play­ing for the Marist Saints Rugby League Club in Auck­land, New Zealand, which is a pretty well-known club. It was pre­sea­son train­ing and an­other player came from the side and grass-cut me, which is like a shoul­der charge to the leg. All I heard was this mas­sive slap and a guy say ‘he broke his an­kle’ and I said ‘who broke their an­kle?’, not re­al­is­ing it was me un­til I shifted my weight to my left leg and fell to the ground. There were com­pli­ca­tions in hospi­tal and I got an in­fec­tion. The doc­tors said if they didn’t am­pu­tate, the in­fec­tion would spread to my or­gans and even­tu­ally kill me. It was only God and my fam­ily that got me through it. I had to learn to walk again with a pros­thetic. I’ve also had to work through a lot of stuff in my head and let go of the past and what could have been. That part has taken years.

I moved to Aus­tralia two years ago be­cause it’s good for fam­ily life. I’ve got a part­ner, Liz, and two kids: Daimen, 4, and Di­lyn, who was born in De­cem­ber. Liz is my big­gest sup­porter. If it wasn’t for her do­ing ev­ery­thing she does at home, I couldn’t pur­sue the box­ing. I did it a bit in New Zealand be­fore the ac­ci­dent so it feels good to get back into it. I’m pre­par­ing for my first am­a­teur bout. I’ll be put up against an able-bod­ied boxer and won’t get any spe­cial treat­ment, which I’m fine with, but my coach is ac­tu­ally find­ing it hard to find some­one will­ing to fight me. Keep­ing my bal­ance is my main fo­cus when I’m in the ring. I’ve al­ways got to be aware of my po­si­tion. I’ve also got to be more strate­gic. I want to go as far as I can with my box­ing to get the mes­sage out there that there are no lim­its to what you can do. The only thing that lim­its you is your mind.

Tino Ierome trains five days a week, hop­ing to be­come a pro­fes­sional boxer. Pic­ture: An­nette Dew

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