THE SWEET TASTE OF VICTORY
by QAMIL BALLA
So I finally won the Australian Professional title! Man, you don’t know the relief - all the pressure has been lifted.
In saying that, the most pressure I felt was put on by myself… Even though I won, I’m still not satisfied. The expectations I put on myself are so high, the title still feels like a 4/10 on the scale of what I want to achieve. Maybe that’s what keeps me a step above most - my drive to perform and my desire to fight on a world stage. I believe that I still haven’t reached to my full potential, and that the best is yet to come.
I’d like to thank to my new trainers Lim, Dirk and Ray and my sports psychologist Nadine. The last two years have seen some massive changes for me, not just in my physical performance and boxing knowledge, but mentally as well. A fighter can only do so much with their body – if they leave their mind behind then all that muscle and new found strength is useless.
As you often see, it’s not always the bigger, more physically intimidating fighter that wins. It’s the fighter with the most confidence, the will to win and the most solid self-belief that overcomes their opponent. Fighting requires a balance between both body and mind - you can’t have one without the other. One quote I have heard often is “a Ferrari without petrol goes nowhere.”
After training with my father for so long, switching trainers was not an easy move. I will always be grateful for everything he has done for me - that goes without saying – but he’s my father man… come on. As I got older, it got to a point where my father and I would clash too often. Having similar personalities, it was inevitable. Not to mention that, while living together, arguments that started in the gym would continue on long after we got home. With our gym being in the backyard, there wasn’t even a drive home to cool off. It was just a move I had to make for myself as a man -taking that next step in life.
Since making that move, I have a new found passion for the sport - sort of like a born again boxer (revitalised!). Having been in the sport since I was 7 years old, making a fresh start wasn’t easy - but now I feel like “Aint nobody dope as me. I’m just so fresh and so clean!” Anyway, enough about the past… I just had to get that of my chest to give you a more in depth understanding of the significance of what’s happening recently, and what is hopefully to come.
Now, to the fight. Being the biggest fight of my career, I surprisingly wasn’t nervous at all. I felt more happy and excited, which is always the best mood to be in before a fight. When I’m in that state of mind, I know it’s going to be a bad day for my opponent!
Fighting in my home town and having all my family and friends there was insane, and truly something I wasn’t used to. Throughout my amateur career I usually had only my father, my uncle, my two brothers, my cousin and a hand full of mates there, which was all I needed. Still, seeing everyone there taking time out of their lives to come and cheer me on truly lifted my spirits.
In the first round, everything was going to plan and I found my range quickly. Even though my opponent was taller, I was much faster and, surprisingly enough, found that I was working well from the outside. I won the first round pretty comfortably, doing just what my coaches said.
The second round got even better, with me landing some body shots and starting to control the fight both inside and out. There was a head clash which left a big gash over my eye, but it was nothing to write home about, and I still won the round.
In the third round I was on fire. By then, I felt like I could read my opponent like a book, and I was landing shots at will. I had him flinching and guessing all over the place, and the fight was under my control. I remember coming back to the corner cocky as hell and saying, “I’m gonna knock him out”.
My trainers reminded me that it was still early days and that I had plenty of time. They told me to just keep doing what I was doing and that the knock out would come. I tried my best to listen, but I let my balls take over. I then went out to make it an early night, or so I thought…
Instead of a glorious fourth round KO with all my fans screaming my name, it turned into a stupid mistake which got me rocked. An “I told you so” from my corner was definitely in order. I was thinking too much about the glory and not enough about the process which would get me there. It was a solid shot, but nothing I haven’t felt before. A straight right due to the lack of defence, thanks to my new found cockiness.
This shot then sparked a barrage of punches from my opponent. I did what any smart fighter would do and grabbed on tight until we ended up falling to the floor. This gave me enough to time regain my bearings and start my response. I managed to back him up again, but it wasn’t enough to win the round.
Coming into the fifth round my left shoulder was starting to become really lethargic and would hurt every time I threw a wide hook or wide rip to the body. In the sixth I switched to south paw for a while to give my left arm a rest, which was a pretty effective tactic.
Now I could go on and tell you the rest of story blow by blow, but you’ve probably figured out by now that I won in the end…. But (yes, another but), it came at a cost. By the end of the fight I could barely move my left arm. I couldn’t even put on my seat belt on without the assistance of my right hand. Not to mention the eleven stiches I had put on my eyebrow – but, hey, that’s just boxing.
Injuries aside, nothing was going to stop me from enjoying the rest of my night. I was on a natural high and couldn’t feel any pain. Along with one of my best mates, Chris, who recently stopped boxing due to a career changing CT scan, I rode my kick scooter to the nearest kebab shop (wearing my new and old boxing belts) to meet up and celebrate with the rest of the fellas. It was one of the best nights of my life, and I can’t wait to see what the future has to offer.