CHAMP SHOWS KIDS THE ROPES
YOUNG Townsville boxers Jalen Tai and Cooper Maddern have every reason to dream big now that one of their idols has blazed a pathway.
Tai, 16, and Maddern, 14, will be watching fellow Upper Ross Hawks fighter Mark Flanagan take on Russia’s Denis Lebedev early on Monday morning Australian time for the WBA world cruiserweight title.
The young pair count Flanagan as a friend and mentor, and like Flanagan suffered early setbacks in their emerging boxing careers.
Tai and Maddern lost two early fights, just as Flanagan did, but they rolled with the punches, learned from their mistakes and are now among Queensland’s most promising young boxers.
Tai has won his past 22 fights and secured two Australian Boxing Council bantamweight belts, and Maddern has gone unbeaten from his past five bouts.
“I lost my first fight and then my third, but Mark helped me after that because he said he lost his first two,” Tai said.
“He won 20 straight fights after that, so it made me think that if he could do it so could I.
“The goal is going pro in the next couple of years.”
Maddern also hopes to turn professional in coming years and like Tai has received some pearls of wisdom from Flanagan.
The pair even trained together at Ross River Dam when Flanagan visited Townsville last month.
“It shows you can do anything you put your mind to,” Maddern said. “He works hard and to get where he is ( and) you have to do the same thing.
Tai added: “He’s like a big brother.”
Flanagan has been treated to the celebrity experience in boxing- mad Russia, with locals in Yekaterinburg posing for photos with Flanagan and getting their boxing gear signed.
Flanagan’s Upper Ross Hawks’ mentor Dennis Clancy said Tai and Maddern had a perfect role model to follow in Flanagan.
“Things didn’t go Mark’s way early on and he got knocked around a bit in those first couple of fights of his,” he said.
“After that it was really up to him if we wanted to keep going.
“He was there for the next training session and he told me ‘ I really want to keep doing this’ and that was that.
“I’ve said it before didn’t have it easy.
“But he’s helped show there’s always a path in life no matter where you come from.” that Mark