GLOVES OFF: Justin Rowsell at Sydney University boxing gym.Picture: SAM RUTTYN, The Daily Telegraph
GLOVES OFF: Justin Rowsell at Sydney University boxing gym.Picture: SAM RUTTYN, The Daily Telegraph

Gloves off for Rowsell

By STEVE SPINKS

IT was only weeks into his comeback that Olympic boxer Justin Rowsell knew he was doing the wrong thing.

The former Casino boy was hiding his intentions from friends and he wasn't keen to push his hurting body to the limits in the gym.

The desire that had sustained the light-welterweight for more than a decade, including 35 professional fights, had deserted him.

But Rowsell had a lingering feeling that he should have achieved more with his supreme talent.

It kept nagging at him ... it still does.

But, in the end, the 33-year-old has decided against making a comeback.

Rowsell was partly convinced not to hop back into the ring by a good friend, Anthony Sobb, who is organising a testimonial luncheon for him at the Fairfield RSL on Thursday, May 5.

"He (Sobb) organised it, probably a little bit, so I wouldn't make a comeback," Rowsell told The Northern Star from his home in Sydney.

"He said to me that the Justin he used to know used to be the first to the gym and the last to leave. But he said I'm now more depressed and questioning myself."

They were comments the former Olympian admits he needed to hear.

"Boxing is a game that, if your heart is not in it 100 per cent, then you shouldn't even contemplate it," Rowsell said.

High-profile boxing trainer Johnny Lewis, one of Rowsell's biggest admirers, was another who was against the Casino fighter making a comeback.

"I tried to hide it from him," Rowsell said. As soon as he found out he was a little upset."

A former world championship bronze and Commonwealth Games silver medal winner, Rowsell got caught up in the idea of a comeback because of his sparring form.

"I sparred against some guys who were pretty well credentialled and did well," he said.

"I boxed with Robbie Peden (IBF world super-featherweight champion) before his world title fight and my form was OK ... that's why I considered a comeback.

"But when I hopped back in against some boys from the gym my form had fallen right back down.

"I don't think I would have enjoyed it if I couldn't recapture my form from the 90s."

But don't think Rowsell will be lost to boxing for ever.

In between driving a garbage truck and helping his wife, Jodie, raise their three boys -? Jodie is pregnant with their fourth child -? Rowsell is training a group of amateur fighters at Sydney University.

He is also pioneering a 10-week corporate fitness course that culminates in a controlled bout.

He still loves boxing.

But it's clicked that his time as a fighter has passed.

TICKETS for Rowsell's testimonial can be purchased from the Fairfield RSL for $55. For further information contact the RSL on 9727 5000.



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