Latrobe lads punch above their weight at nationals

IF LATROBE was an Australian state, it would have finished second on the medal table at last week's national boxing championships.

And it was only pipped for top spot by three points.

While New South Wales won four golds in the elite division, the Latrobe gym, which operates from the home of state coach Craig Woods, won three gold and Nick Cooney's nail-biting silver.

"It was nice to finish second as a state," Woods said. "And if Nick had picked up a few more points we could have tied on top. I'm very proud of that."

Woods's son Luke, a Commonwealth Games representative in 2010, won the 64kilogram division; nephew Jackson, an Olympian last year, claimed the 56kg; and Dylan Hardy added the 81kg.

Woods believes all three - plus the 60kg Cooney - are well placed for next year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

"They are all in the box seat and will get seeded for the Commonwealths," he said.

"Luke has already had a taste of them and Jack is an Olympian, so I know they are good enough. We're very happy to think we could have as many as four from this club.

"Last year we got Jack there, but Luke and Dylan were only beaten by a point.

"It's just a shame this year is not a Commonwealth or Olympic year because we'd have been laughing."

Woods said Jackson had benefited form moving up a division from the weight he fought at in London.

"He's a lot stronger. He's very sneaky out of the gates and likes to get away fast like he did at the Olympics where he was ahead after the first two rounds," he said.

"He was ranked in the top eight in the world as a youth and is a very classy fighter."

An Australian champion himself at 54kg in 1983, Woods attributed the elite fighters' success to their teamwork and respect for himself and assistant Stephen Hardy.

"They look after each other and always push each other. Plus they are very skilful boys," he said.

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