Latrobe punches above its weight

BOXING is fast joining woodchopping, Darrel Baldock and platypuses among Latrobe's claims to fame.

A town with a population of about 3000 has not only produced two of Tasmania's seven confirmed Commonwealth Games competitors, but also came within a sniff of providing half of Australia's team of eight male boxers for next month's event.

``A pair of boxing gloves might have to be the new town logo,'' joked Jackson Woods as the London Olympian and his Latrobe Boxing Club stablemate Nick Cooney prepared to head to Glasgow.

Dylan Hardy and Jackson's cousin, 2010 Commonwealth Games representative Luke Woods, also reached national finals before settling for silver medals as the production line from the homemade gym in the garden of Luke's dad Craig's house continued to churn out champions.

Latrobe Council is financially supporting the boxers and Mayor Mike Gaffney said the town is proud of its latest ambassadors.

``We breed some good athletes from this area and the town certainly punches above its weight,'' he said.

``To have Commonwealth Games and Olympic representatives coming out of a backyard shed is great. 

``Being an ex-physical education teacher, I'm pleased that these guys look after themselves, present well and are a credit to the community.''

Both 21, Woods and Cooney have just returned from a training camp in Canberra and head off for Glasgow on Sunday, but enjoyed reflecting on their progress yesterday.

``We started this gym 10 years ago and all we had was a floor, ceiling, boxing bag and speed ball,'' said Woods, who will contest the 56kg bantamweight division.

``You'd never think we'd be going to Olympics and Commonwealth Games from here, but with all the hard work we've done, we feel we've earned it.

``It's awesome. When Luke went to the Commonwealth Games, Latrobe started to get mentioned but now when we go to nationals everyone knows the name.''

Former state middle distance running champ Cooney, who fights at 60kg, agreed.

``At the national champs when they see Latrobe next to a name they know they're going to have a tough fight,'' he said.

``The gym is more like a family than a club. We all back each other.''

Craig Woods, who was Australian bantamweight champion in 1983, took a modest pride in the club's record. ``When we built the gym our main aim was to try and get one national title. If we got that we'd have been stoked. Well we've just notched up our 11th national champion,'' said the 47-year-old. 

Nick Cooney and Jackson Woods.

Nick Cooney and Jackson Woods.

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