Date: June 24 2012
OVERCOMING his fears was one of the great attractions of boxing for a young Tony Abbott, the Opposition Leader has said.
In an interview to be aired today on ABC Grandstand's Live Fit Australia program, Mr Abbott spoke of his days as a heavyweight on Oxford University's boxing team in the 1970s. The Rhodes scholar retired undefeated with four wins.
He knocked out his first opponent in 45 seconds, then defeated a British marine, a cadet officer from the Sandhurst Royal Military College and a student from Cambridge.
''It's a great sport, it's not to everyone's taste, but I got a real buzz out of it,'' Mr Abbott said.
''The thing about boxing is that it requires an enormous amount of discipline because you have to discipline yourself to overcome fear … but I think the other great thing about boxing is the respect … you have to respect your opponents. They might be good fighters, they might not be so-good fighters, but they're there in the ring with you.''
Mr Abbott admitted his boxing career would never have happened if not for a Jesuit priest. He was on the verge of backing out of the sport when he bumped into his friend.
''As I got down there on that second afternoon [after the first training session], my Jesuit friend, Paul Mankowski, presented me with a skipping rope. He said 'Look, Tony, I know you weren't able to find a rope to fit you yesterday so I bought you one'.
''I was very touched because he was a man who took his vow of poverty very seriously and I didn't have the heart to quit after that.''
Daniel Lane conducted the interview with Mr Abbott for Live Fit Australia.
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