Our oldest contenders story.
When I was very young my parents had a milk bar in Victoria St, Nth Melbourne. We were close to the stadium ( Festival Hall) and a lot of boxers were customers at our milk bar.
A few of them took a shine to me and I would go with them to watch the boxing. Unfortunately these blokes (one’s name was Johnny Gillet) drank a lot and my parents, ever protective, became less impressed and I wasn’t able to go with them anymore.
Fast forward to young Paul at 10 years of age and by now we lived in Newmarket near the Flemington racecourse. All sorts of characters existed around us and eventually I finished up going to the Police boys club where they taught me boxing.
Sayin it “Like it Is” (Ray Lastelle)
It’s Monday Morning, two days after Fight Night 24.
While it’s still fresh in my memory, here is my take on the whole experience. This is purely from my own personal perspective.
I am 68 years old and started the programme after watching two Fight Nights at the Casino. I have always kept myself reasonably fit after serving Twenty Years in the Royal Australian Navy. I was at a stage where I was a little overweight and wanted to get to a 100% fit in the shortest possible time. FLP would do that. To actually commit was one of the hardest things I have done, but after giving Gav the nod, I felt so relieved and focused. I remember making the point to Gav that the actual fight night was not my main reason for signing up but the fitness. He accepted that and also said that the fight was only six minutes in 3 months anyway. No big deal. In reality, he knew I was going to Fight and so did I.
During the training, I lost 10Kilo in weight and was jumping out of my skin fitness wise. I did not miss a single Training Session, gave up alcohol and watched my diet very carefully. I also picked a period where I had no other commitments for the three months. Nothing was going to stop me.
I had plenty of “knockers” when the word spread but that didn’t phase me at all because they were usualy from people that would never stand up and take a challenge. Like I said, this was a huge ask.
Emotionally, I experienced the lot. I was nervous, excited,motivated worried as hell about the fight but tried to shut it out. I had periods of highs and lows (Very low) where I felt like walking away. Strangely enough, after every gym training session, all the bad went away and it was all good again.The worst time of the day for me was from midnight til 9am. I had to shut out the inner voice that was telling me I didn’t have to go on. I kept telling myself that “Giving Up Was Not An Option”. It worked.
What a dreaded word. Might I suggest that you invent a new word for it. The start of sparring was pretty daunting for most, including myself. It meant that you were about to get belted around the ring. No one likes that. All the blokes I spoke to had the same reservations and told me that it was on their mind day and night. We survived because it was conducted in such a way that after it was over, we were usually still in one piece and there were plenty of good blokes around to watch over you and motivate you. I still say the word should be changed.
The last week before Fight Night.
This was a period of very light training to allow us to get some strength back. Again I didn’t miss a session doing light defence and attack. For me this was the week where I learnt so much from the Club Boys. Anything I wanted advice on I was asking questions and getting great advice. They all seem to have their own little tricks and tactics. The worst part of this week was the suspense of who you were going to get matched up with.
There were now two days until Fight Night. I don’t know about anyone else, but I fought the fight in my mind for two days straight. I had a plan.
The Fight (The Finale)
This was without a doubt the most emotional period. The advice was to get your mind of it and do something else to amuse yourself. Yeah Right.
My greatest fear was to get a cold and be unwell for the fight. I survived this for the whole ten weeks after training in the rain and swimming in the surf.
I couldn’t believe it…. The day before the fight a cold set in. My nose was blocked and I couldn’t breathe through it. I was devastated because the fight was on right or wrong. Friday afternoon I went to the local chemist very agitated and basically demanded they get me right before Saturday night. I was almost blaming them for it. I ended up buying come Codral Day and Night Cold Tablets and a bottle of water. I had two tablets at the counter to get them working fast. I was in bed at 7pm on the Friday Night but up about 10 times during the night to check my air passage. By morning it was starting to clear but not 100% Fortunately,just before the fight, Drew had a nose squirter that was supposed to fix the problem. He gave me a go with it and it did the job.
Saturday… I had no distractions at all. Switched off the mobile and prepared. I arranged the clothes I was wearing to the Casino, the Fight Outfit and the the after party outfit. I cleaned my mouthguard,headgear and gloves with disinfectant. I had towels and full water bottles. My hand wraps were rolled and I put in a spare set as well. I was ready. The next few hours I spent working on my grand entrance. I played my entry song over and over. I
thought that the more “Hollywood” I put into it, the more the crowd would support me. That seemed to work on the night.
My youngest daughter dropped me off at the Casino Main Entrance at 5PM. She stepped out of the car and gave me a goodbye hug before driving off. She later told me she cried all the way home. I have three daughters. They also told me that in the Ballroom, even before the first fight, they were all over in the corner crying. Can you believe that. On top of all that, my partner Pauline had even brought a small towel and had bandages in her handbag to fix up the damage I was about to sustain.
I always like to be early and thought I would be first there. Wrong, Chad was already there nervously pacing around. I think he was pleased to see me or anyone.As the Fighters started to arrive there were hugs all round. The bond we shared was getting tighter and you could sense the mood and feelings. Names were then ticked off, all accounted for and no one had pulled out.
Gav opened the Ballroom door and we all entered to the magnificent sight. There was the Boxing Ring we had all come to know so well. New feelings were emerging. We entered the ring, had a discussion and prayers after which Kev. told us the procedures for the remainder of the night. I didn’t hear a word he said, except where the toilet was. I went straight to the mens room in the middle of the kitchen for a nervous one and when I came out I took the wrong turn and ended up in a cool room somewhere. I had to ask directions to the Blue Dressing Room.
As I was second fight, I wrapped up early and prepared. I didn’t even look into the Ballroom before the fight. I didn’t know where my supporters were in the room and didn’t particularly care at this stage. I just wanted to get on with it. I had both Rob and Brocky in my corner.I felt very comfortable knowing they were there. Rob gave me a motivational talk and escorted me to the rear of the stage. Brock had my headgear and water bottle and I told him to put plenty on my head during the break between rounds. He had the wrong water bottle, the one he poured on my head had my secret formula in it. Little bit sticky.
From here it is a bit of a daze. I did the Hollywood Entrance and appeared to have some crowd support. I then saw my supporters and they were going Ballistic.
I can’t remember much about the Ref. and his instructions, but I did remember Robs instructions. ….
The fight was now on. The one thing I remember loud and clear was that Adam (My opponent) was a different person all of a sudden.
All my pre fight plans were now out the window. He had a wild look in his eyes and he was fired up. I tried to remember Robs instructions but nothing at all was as planned. I had to take it as it came.
I can honestly say I had no idea how I was going throughout the fight. All I remember is that Adam was landing blows and I could only hope I landed more than him. I found it rather odd after the fight that I could remember what Adam produced, but not what I did. I am looking forward to seeing the video.
After the Fight.
The crowd was great. They supported everyone to some degree and it was a great atmosphere.
My supporters were going crazy, They had all lost their voices from screaming. I was still dazed from the experience.
I went over to join them and had the photos and all that stuff. I have never seen them in this state before. I guess it’s the Family Bond thing.
I eventually gained some exposure and relaxed to enjoy the rest of the programme and support the others during their fights.
We had a relaxing breakfast at the Casino with Gav, Michelle and their beautiful children. I didn’t get to bed until 2.30 am and I didn’t get any sleep. My heart was still pounding all night. I have never experienced that before.
At the breakfast, Gav caught me a bit off guard with a question…….. What was the best part of the night.????
I have thought long and hard about that over the last two days because I want to give an accurate answer. Gav really wants to know. I am sure he will ask most the same question and there will certainly be different answers.
I have two stand outs and it’s not about me..
1. The absolute pleasure, enjoyment and satisfaction my family, friends and partner Pauline got out of it is indescribable. Life changing and something I will treasure forever.
2. This is the Highlight for me…………….
After my fight, the plan was to stay and support the other fellows, then at intermission, have a shower and change.
I did that, but as I was preparing to change, Adam (My opponent) entered the Blue Corner change room. He walked over to me and shook my hand and offered to buy me a drink. I said certainly, so we left the change room together, walked to the Bar and had that drink. He then took me over to meet his support group.
What a magnificent gesture from this truly amazing bloke. Thats the best part for me by a country mile.
This programme certainly brings out the best in us.
My journey certainly doesn’t end here. The bonding will last forever. There is not a bad person in the Gym. All the Trainers and Club boys are No1. Kev is unbelievably dedicated and a good bloke, even if he is a Kiwi. I am proud to be a No.24. They are all champions and I hope to see more of them in the near future.
Rob Quatro was in my corner along with Brock. Rob was the driving force to get me started in FLP and it was such a pleasure to have him in my corner guiding me for the finale. I really don’t believe I would have come this far without him and for that I will be forever grateful.
Well Gav., that’s me Sayin’ it like it is.
It has been a life changing experience and for that I sincerely thank you, Michelle and your beautiful family.
Lassie “The Wild Dog” Lastelle