Super-fit pair take proven style into ring

Commonwealth Games hopefuly Jackson Woods trains at the Latrobe Boxing Club before competing in Glasgow, Scotland, from July 25. Picture: Scott Gelston

Commonwealth Games hopefuly Jackson Woods trains at the Latrobe Boxing Club before competing in Glasgow, Scotland, from July 25. Picture: Scott Gelston

The Examiner's sports editor ROB SHAW profiles the Tasmanians competing at the Commonwealth Games from July 23 to August 3.

AS Jackson Woods prepares to complete the boxing trifecta of Olympics, world champs and Commonwealth Games, he has shared some of the secrets that have underpinned the stunning success of his coach and uncle's Latrobe Boxing Club.

Craig Woods was the 1983 Australian champion at the same bantamweight his nephew will fight in Glasgow, and preaches the same style to all of his charges, which at the last count numbered 11 national champions.

Jackson and clubmate Nick Cooney will both use their coach's "in-and-out" method when they step into the ring at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, a technique based on superior fitness in which a fighter gets close enough to hit his opponent but retreats just as quickly to avoid the same punishment.

"We need to be extra fit to box that style but it's way more effective," Woods said.

"Craig was an Australian champion and just taught us to fight the way he did."

Craig also preaches the value of sparring and would not hesitate to mix weight divisions, even putting the 56 kilogram Woods in the ring with the 81 kilogram Dylan Hardy.

"Jackson would beat him for speed, Dylan would have too much power, but they'd bring each other up," he said.

"When the boys spar they are really fighting, they are trying to belt each other. And when one gets hurt he usually lifts another level."

When Craig started the club in his garage a decade ago, it was just his sons Luke and Aaron and nephew that were using it.

As the numbers grew, so did the recognition and four years after Luke made a Commonwealth Games team, he was one of four Latrobe boxers to reach the final of the selection trials.

Latrobe Boxing Club members Nick Cooney and Jackson Woods. Picture: Scott Gelston

Latrobe Boxing Club members Nick Cooney and Jackson Woods. Picture: Scott Gelston

Woods and Cooney provided a 50 per cent success rate, the former endorsing his coach's focus on sparring.

"Craig started the gym with Aaron, Luke and me and from day one we sparred together every day and I think that is the key because other clubs don't do it as much.

"He (Craig) has his days when he gets crabby but mostly he's pretty good. We know what we need to do and we might as well do it because we know it's only going to help us.

"We get along really well and feel like a big family. There's not many arguments here."

Latrobe-born, Woods attended the town's primary and high schools around a period living in Western Australia and the painter still recalls the sacrifices made for his boxing.

"I can remember finishing school and my mates would be going swimming and ask if I wanted to come and you'd say `sorry boys, I'm going training'.

"Sometimes it feels like another job. Sometimes you knock off work and think you can't be bothered but you just have to do it. And it's all worth it for moments like going to an Olympics or Commonwealth Games."

Cooney and Woods were training three times a day under national coach Kevin Smith at the Australian Institute of Sport before heading off for further camps in Ireland and Kazakhstan and Craig, who coached the Australian team to the 2011 Youth Commonwealth Games when Jackson won a silver medal, is confident about their chances in Glasgow.

"If they get good draws, there's a good chance they could medal," he said.

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