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Athlete spurned ballet for boxing

IT'S THE Billy Elliott story, only in reverse.

Just 12 months after rejecting ballet to step into the ring, Canberra 14-year-old Adrian Farquhar is a national boxing champion and aiming for a spot at next year's Commonwealth Games.

Farquhar claimed the national under-16 title in the 46-kilogram division at the Australian championships in Adelaide last week.

Making the feat even more impressive is that he has had only 10 fights while his two rivals boasted more than 90 bouts between them.

Farquhar's future could have been very different had he accepted his dad's offer to start ballet.

As a talented sprinter, Farquhar and his dad, Bobby, were trying to find ways to improve his strength.


Ballet loomed as an option, given Bobby used to be a ballet dancer and runs the national acting school in Canberra.

It was the opposite of the movie hit Billy Elliot, when an 11-year-old turned his back on boxing to focus on ballet against his father's wishes.

''He's a happy chappy, you wouldn't think he's a boxer, to be honest. He looks like a ballet dancer,'' said Bobby, who is also his son's boxing coach.

''But boxing was the next option to build up his upper-body strength. Ballet's just not his thing.

''He's really good with his running and long jump and he likes the camaraderie … boxing has worked out really well because he's got a gift.''

Farquhar was one of five Canberra boxers to claim national titles in Adelaide.

Sisters Nine and Maddie Schuster won their junior and youth titles while Adriana Smith and Fleur Logan also claimed gold medals.

Farquhar's win earns him a spot at the junior world titles in the Ukraine in August.

The year 9 Lyneham High School student was fighting against juniors almost two years older than him.

But he was unfazed despite his limited experience.

He is 175cm tall and has a significant reach and height advantage over his opponents.

His record in the ring is 10 fights, nine wins and one loss and he beat Victoria's Jack Bowen in the final.

Despite still being raw in the sport, Farquhar hopes he can impress national coaches enough to be selected for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

''Everyone was bigger and stronger than me in the 100m sprint so that's why I got into boxing,'' Farquhar said.

''After my first fight I really started to enjoy it. I got nervous before the national titles, but now I'm OK.

''I'd love to make it to the Rio Olympics [in 2016] and the Commonwealth Games.

''The usual selection age is 16 years old, but if you're good enough they select you anyway if you're a bit younger.''