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Crime-fighter turned boxer

13 Mar 06 00:15
Australian boxer Jarrod Fletcher (81 kg division) in action.

Australian boxer Jarrod Fletcher (81 kg division) in action.

Known as the smiling assassin, Australian private investigator Romesh Fernando will be taking up his fight in the Boxing ring at the Games – and his competitors should be scared.

While not looking like the average boxer, the 164 centimetre tall, former Sri Lankan will represent Australia in the 48 kilogram division at the Games. Just as in his job, he is hoping his opponents underestimate him, based on appearances.

“I don't tend to have that much trouble because I don't look like your average private investigator. I'm not your big strong Magnum PI look-alike – I look like a little kid,” Fernando said.

"I’ve never had to use my Boxing skills in my job,” he said. "I have a knack of talking my way out of sticky situations."

Fernando was born in Sri Lanka and took up Boxing at the age of 21 under the influence of his army colonel father who, during his military service, developed a passion and talent for boxing that he passed on to his youngest son.

When Fernando was 11 the family left Sri Lanka, hoping to build a better life in Perth.

“They were really uncertain times,” Fernando said.

“(In Sri Lanka) I never saw my dad because he was always away dealing with all the trouble. We saw houses burning down and they were really nervous times but we still had fun and played cricket and ran around with our mates.”

The 32-year-old became a private investigator in Perth seven years ago when he could no longer fit full-time work around his training schedule.

This will be Fernando’s second Games, having been eliminated in the first round of the Manchester Games in 2002.

He wants to finish his Boxing career on a high note and will be watched by his parents who will be flying to Melbourne from Perth for the Games. This will be only the second time his mother has seen him fight.

“She hates it,” he said. “She saw me fight at the last Games and hasn’t seen me fight since. She says she doesn’t like to see me getting hurt or hurting other boxers, but mum and dad are both very supportive of me and dad comes to a lot of my fights.”

The Australian Boxing team has been preparing at Melbourne’s Monash University for the past week and will include heavyweight Brad Pitt, up-and-comer Jarrod Fletcher and tiny journeyman Fernando.

Fletcher, who has been based at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra for the past three years after completing Year 12 in his home town of Hervey Bay in Queensland, is a fighter with very quick hands.

“I’ve got good hand speed and I know how to score, but in amateur Boxing the draw is really important. A good draw can get you through to the final,” Fletcher said.

The 22-year old amateur is an articulate youngster who has genuine claims to gold in the 75kg division (middleweight in the professional ranks).

Fletcher showed a promising amateur boxing career but despite trying to fit in university with Boxing, he needed to concentrate on one thing in order to achieve his best.

“I kick myself about not completing uni all the time. I wish I’d stayed and it still isn’t too late, but I honestly don’t know what I want to do,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher’s future may be to turn professional which would be spurred on if he wins a medal at the Games.

The team:
Romesh Fernando (WA, 48kg div)
Bradley Hore (Qld, 51kg)
Nathan Di Carlo (Qld, 54kg)
Luke Jackson (Tas, 57kg)
Leonardo Zappavigna (NSW, 60kg)
Todd Kidd (Qld, 64kg)
Gerard O'Mahony (ACT, 69kg)
Jarrod Fletcher (Qld, 75kg)
Ben McEachran (Qld, 81kg)
Brad Pitt (Vic, 91kg)
Steven Rudic (ACT, 91+kg)

The Games Boxing competition begins on 17 March and continues through to 25 March at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

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