VIDEO: Devastating Round 1 KO in Gympie boxer's title fight
BOXING: His opponent had hundreds of bouts to his name before they made the long walk to the ring, but nothing was going to stop inspirational Gympie boxer Danny Hawkins realising his dream.
In front of a packed Caloundra RSL crowd last Saturday night, Hawkins took just one minute and 50 seconds to send Chris Fox crashing to the canvas and claim the WBF World Masters Australian Title 83kg division by first round knockout.
What's more impressive is the fight was Hawkins' first inside an actual ring after spending the bulk of his career so far travelling around Australia as a member of Fred Brophy's Boxing Troupe.
The 43-year-old, who coaches alongside wife Alicia, Mark Hanson, Michael "Tiny” Ditton and Keith Stubbings at Gympie's Savage Boxing and Fitness Centre five days a week, said the win was the proudest moment of his career.
"We had a plan, and our plan was we knew he was vulnerable to a lead right hand, so I caught him early with that and he didn't recover too well,” Hawkins said. "I knew he was dizzy, so the goal was to get straight back into him before he got his senses about him again and finish him off.
"The relief afterwards from the build-up and all that time, and to get the outcome I wanted, there was no feeling like it. That was the biggest thing I've achieved in boxing. Now I've been asked to fight for the world title next year in Las Vegas, and I'm going to defend my title in October. I haven't got an opponent yet, but we'll see how we go from there for the World Masters title.”
Hawkins said it "meant everything” to have the support of the Savage community on fight night, as well as his fellow coaches and his cornermen.
He thanked head coach and fellow Brophy fighter Aaron Corden for his guidance through an exhaustive 10-week training camp.
"Having everyone from the gym and all the people come out to watch me and knowing a bit about the bloke I was fighting, he'd ... won an Australian title before, I was definitely nervous,” he said.
"(The nerves) all went out the window and I focused. I knew I'd done everything possible to get ready, I hadn't cut any corners. I knew I was ready.
"From helping me through sparring, pushing me when I'm running, the other trainers helping me out, and having Aaron there, a world champion Muay Thai fighter helping me out with his knowledge, there's just no way I could have done it without everybody.”
Hawkins said the not-for-profit gym was always on the lookout for sponsorships as it looked to expand and continue serving Gympie youth in the future.
"There's always room for anyone looking to help out, we can put their logos on our shirts and training gear. We're always looking for sponsors. We put all the money back into the gym. We'd love to get a few sponsors because we've got four boys going to fight in Hervey Bay at the end of the month. We need help with registration, getting them there and making sure they've got the right safety gear.”