Cape Barren Island boxer Shaun Thomas talks about his crucial fight and his motivation

ON THE ROPES: Tasmanian Shaun Thomas is fighting for more than just wins and titles among the indigenous community. Picture: David Stanley.

ON THE ROPES: Tasmanian Shaun Thomas is fighting for more than just wins and titles among the indigenous community. Picture: David Stanley.

Pint-sized Shaun Thomas packs one heck of a wallop.

It has only taken the Cape Barren Island native less than six pro-fights to prove that.

A reputation the still green Queenslander Jesse Bailey should be well aware before stepping through the ropes.

All that Thomas knows that this fight could be his last shot to earn a title bout.

“All that I know of him is that he is tall,” Thomas said.

“But they’re all tall to me – I’m only 5’3” (160cms). I think I’m the shortest professional boxer in Australia.”

PUNCHING ABOVE HIS WEIGHT: Thomas busy in a sparring session in his Melbourne South Side Fitness Gym ahead of facing Jesse Bailey. Picture: David Stanley.

PUNCHING ABOVE HIS WEIGHT: Thomas busy in a sparring session in his Melbourne South Side Fitness Gym ahead of facing Jesse Bailey. Picture: David Stanley.

When the 35-year-old is also Australia’s eldest in his favourable super featherweight division by more than four years, it’s now or never.

Back in the ring for the first time in more than nine months still burns since his technical knockout of nemesis Sam Williams in their vacant Australian title fight.

The eventual final-round knockout winner clearly is not over the disappointment of missing the weigh-in.

The penalty was that Thomas forfeited the belt before the 59.8kg boxer even floored Williams just 19 seconds from the first bell.

“I was devastated after that because I was just 800 grams over,” Thomas said.

“Two weeks out from that fight, I ripped my right hip flexor muscle, which stopped me from running.

“So we had to basically restructure my training to still be conditioned to go 10 rounds, which it did.

COURAGE: The referee raises the hand of Thomas in his knockdown win over Sam Williams. Picture: Marty's Knockout Photography.

COURAGE: The referee raises the hand of Thomas in his knockdown win over Sam Williams. Picture: Marty's Knockout Photography.

“I really struggled with not being able to get the weight down without running.

“So I resulted to five hours in the sauna on the day of the weigh-in – I don’t wish that upon anyone.”

Thomas was not hesitant in showing his emotions moments after the titleless win.

The tears were the softer side of a proud man that outside the fight game would rather hug than hurt.

He is employed under the Victorian aboriginal child care protection to retain their family and cultural links.

It is a journey that began at the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre legal services as a youth worker that took him to Darwin to work in family violence education programs in 18 different Top End communities and also anger and violence treatment programs at Berrimah jail. 

CONTEMPLATION: The Cape Barren Island-bred fighter gets in the zone ahead of his fight on Saturday night in Melbourne. Picture: David Stanley.

CONTEMPLATION: The Cape Barren Island-bred fighter gets in the zone ahead of his fight on Saturday night in Melbourne. Picture: David Stanley.

“It all stems from my childhood on Cape Barren Island with a mum but no father, and with limited support and growing around alcohol and family violence, and knowing the implications of that and the impact it had on me in my youth,” Thomas said.

“That’s made me keep my feet on the ground.”

There was also more than seven years out of boxing until he contacted former world champion Barry Michael that he was serious about fighting in his Melbourne-based promotion

“I dropped 30 kilos to do this again,” Thomas said since winning three of his past four fights.

“There’s a bit of pressure on me. I need to win this to say that I deserve a title shot.”

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