BOUNCING BACK FROM LIFE’S BLOWS
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
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