Kingaroy boxer reflects on the year that made him
AT JUST 22, Kingaroy's Liam Wilson has achieved more in the past year than most people accomplish in a lifetime.
After making it to the third round of this year's Commonwealth Games and welcoming his first child into the world, the Kingaroy-born all star boxing gun has wrapped up 2018 on a high note.
Wilson defeated super featherweight title holder, Brent Rice at the Jeff Horn v Anthony Mundine showdown at Suncorp last Friday night.
The undercard fight was one for the history books as Wilson continued his way up the professional ranks.
"I'm sort of still soaking it all up and enjoying the accomplishment,” Wilson said.
The unanimous victory decision over Toowoomba-based Rice was only Wilson's third professional fight and his first ever 10-rounder.
"I was worried I wasn't going to be fit enough. But it felt like a huge accomplishment to get through it and I can't wait until I get to do a 10-rounder again.
"I felt really content with the win against Rice. Having that win felt like the proper beginning of my pro career, purely because I knew Australia was watching.
"I feel like I've been properly introduced to the Australian audience now. I've never boxed in front of an audience the size of the one at Suncorp. It was unreal.”
Wilson bounced back from having a point taken from him for punching on the break midway through the fight, finishing up on a 97-92, 96-93, 97-92 victory.
The five-time Australian champion, nine-time Queensland champion and six-time Australian golden glove winner said he still wasn't completely comfortable in front of the crowd, or a camera for that matter.
"It's taken me 10 years just to get used to getting up and being in front of people. I think ultimately it's because I am scared to lose.
"I still get nervous before every fight. It's weird I've been doing this since I was a kid, but the nerves still get to me.”
These pre-fight nerves are something Wilson has in common with former trainer and mentor, Len Hams, who first noticed the 10-year-old Wilson had a special talent when he showed up to the Kingaroy Sporting Club one afternoon after a friend brought a boxing trophy to school and piqued Wilson's interest in the sport.
"He had the will to win, even as a small 10-year-old. He was just brilliant, he'd just walk in and stop them,” Mr Hams said.
"Seeing him in the ring and winning the fight (at Suncorp) brought back some lovely memories.”
Wilson credits much of his success in the ring to the man who encouraged him to get in there in the first place.
"I wouldn't be here without Len Hams. Back when I was a kid, I used to make up lies to get out of practice. I was just nervous I suppose, not sure of myself. But Len kept on calling me up, getting me down to the hall for training. He saw something in me,” Mr Wilson said.
Amidst all the gruelling training and preparation, Wilson and his partner Courtney have also welcomed daughter, Charlotte, into their lives this year.
Wilson admits when it comes to boxing, fatherhood has provided him with a whole new motivation.
"Every fight I have I think of my little girl. I think of my whole family. It would be impossible to do what I do without Courtney. She supports me through all of it.
"It's funny. Boxing is thought of as such a manly sport but I do rely a lot on the happiness and stability of my family. Everything I do, I'm doing it for them.”
Most 22-year-olds would find the baby and elite athlete training juggle a nightmare, but Wilson said this hasn't been the case at all.
"This is my dream job. I'm fortunate enough to train in the morning and then I get to knock off and be a dad to Charlotte before another couple of hours of training in the evening.”
Wilson's next fight is set to be another Jeff Horn undercard in April, but as for the grand scheme, Wilson has his eyes set firmly on one goal.
"Within four-five years I am aiming for a world championship,” he said.
As for the time being, Wilson is enjoying his most recent victory and some well-deserved family time, but admits he is excited at what the New Year will bring and the prospect of more professional grade fights.
"I'm grateful for all the support I've received from my hometown. I hope people in the South Burnett keep backing me,” he said.
"I don't forget where I've come from.”