WHAT I’VE LEARNT ABOUT FATHERHOOD
Former national boxing champion Tony Mundine on teaching your kids to duck life’s haymakers
My father was a great man. Had 11 kids. Growing up, my floor was dirt, a little humpy place my dad built in an Aboriginal community called Baryulgil, not far from Grafton in far northern NSW. A lot of the men worked in the local asbestos mine. My dad was a hard worker who brought me up the hard way, but we survived. My dad didn’t see me as a boxer. I had a few fights at school, bareknuckle. But I didn’t realise I was going to come up the ladder so quick. I just kept knocking them out. I had 25 knockouts straight.
I treat all my kids the same. I have three girls and three boys. “Choc” [former world boxing champion Anthony] is my second boy. I set a good example for all of them. I never drank, smoked or gambled. I don’t swear. You’ve got to put them on the right track. The teenage years – that’s when things can go wrong. You have to keep them close. When he was little I used to drive Anthony through Kings Cross and show him things. I showed him the ones who were on drugs and the ones who were on alcohol. I said, “This is where you end up if you get on the stuff”. I told him, “Whatever you want to do, you’ve got to live a clean life”. And look where he is today. He wouldn’t have all the property he’s got if hadn’t lived clean. I was worried when Anthony switched from rugby league to boxing, because in rugby league your guys will give you a hand. You can lie down if you get knocked in the guts or get the wind knocked out of you. You can put your hand up and say, “Bring your water bottle”. But in the ring, mate, you’re a lone ranger. But he had the gift. And you can’t knock him because he’s had a great career. I’m Anthony’s trainer as well as his dad. See, I’ve been there and done it. I know the ropes and what you’ve got to do in training. So I pass my knowledge on to him. He’s 43 but he’s not finished. Forty-three is not old. I’m 67 and I’ll fight anybody in the ring. I can punch the bag for one hour. Nonstop. Hard. I did it last night. I’ve been doing it three times a week for the last 30 years. Your job as a father never stops. You want to put a smile on their faces and their kids’ faces. Be happy around them. They’re your blood. I see things that need doing in their houses and I do them. I’ll do anything. I painted Choc’s two-storey house inside and out.
RING MASTER: MUNDINE WITH LOCAL KIDS, INCLUDING SON ANTHONY ON HIS RIGHT, IN THE MID-EIGHTIES.
Tony Mundine will be in his son’s corner when Anthony fights former welterweight world champion Jeff Horn in Brisbane on November 30.