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Australia's Boxers ready to rumble

14 Feb 06 05:23

Ben McEachran of Australia in the Men's Light Heavyweight semi final at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.
Ben McEachran of Australia in the Men's Light Heavyweight semi final at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.

Manchester bronze medallist Ben McEachran will lead Australia’s eleven man Boxing squad to Melbourne, with his eyes of the prize in the 81kg division, and the hope of bringing his team mates a repeat of the glory of Manchester.


The team includes three other Manchester team members – Jarrod Fletcher who has moved up from the 63.5kg to the 75kg class; Romesh Fernando and Bradley Hore who remain in their favoured 48kg and 51kg classes respectively.


Bradley Hore is among the team’s most experienced members, having competed at both the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympics, and winning a silver at the recent Bocskai Tournament in Hungary to show his form ahead of the Games.


Queenslander Jarod Fletcher, who lost his Manchester quarter final by just two points is in good form having won a bronze medal in Norway, while Sri Lankan born Perth private investigator, Romesh Fernando, who was disappointed to have been eliminated in the first round four years ago, will look to make amends in Melbourne.


Australian Commonwealth Games Association CEO Perry Crosswhite said their experience would form a strong base for the Games challenge.


“Our boxers produced wonderful result in Manchester and that probably leads to great expectation in 2006,” he said.


“But we have to be realistic. Athletics aside, boxing has the most depth of any sport at the Games, you only have to look at 2002 to see why - 18 nations appearing on the medal table and the 12 golds were shared amongst eight nations.”


With the retirement of Manchester gold medallists Daniel Geale and Paul Miller, the team will be relying on some new names to land some punches on the Commonwealth’s best.


Among those names is one familiar to fans of Fight Club, not fans of fighting. Victorian Brad Pitt will challenge in the 91kg category, relying on his skill in the ring to stand out from his Hollywood namesake.


He’ll be joined by the team’s youngest competitor, Lenny Zappavigna who is also in good form after a gold medal win in the Norway Box Cup in late January, during which he was named the male boxer of the 12 country tournament.


The other young challengers include Queenslanders Nathan Di Carlo and Todd Kidd. Di Carlo, who will fight in the 54kg division is both the 2006 Oceania and Arafura Games champion, while Kidd’s push in the 64kg division comes of a silver in Norway.


The team’s super heavyweight, Steve Rudic, is a former college Basketball player in the United States, while 21-year-old Tasmanian Luke Jackson rounds out the team in the 57kg weight class.

The team for the Melbourne Games contains one less member than the Manchester squad, after the deletion of the light-middleweight division from the Games.


Boxing is one of only three sports, along with Athletics and Swimming, which has featured at each Commonwealth Games since their inception in 1930. During that time Australia has won eleven gold medals in the sport.


The full Australian Commonwealth Games Boxing team is:


Romesh Fernando (48kg),  Bradley Hore (51kg) Nathan Di Carlo (54kg) Luke Jackson (57kg) Leonardo Zappavigna (60kg) Todd Kidd (64kg) Gerard O’Mahony (69kg), Jarrod Fletcher (75kg), Ben McEachran (81kg), Brad Pitt (91kg) and Steven Rudic (91+kg)


Boxing will feature on eight days of competition at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games from 17 – 25 March at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. Each division is contested on an elimination basis, with the winner proceeding to the next round and the loser being eliminated from the competition. Bronze medals will be presented to both losers of the semi-final rounds.

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