IT won’t just be Sam Ah-See on display tonight when the Orange boxer takes on Shannon King for the Australian super-welterweight title, it will be the sport itself.
Boxing is a sport which galvanises the public. To some it is a brutal, brain-damaging sport, to others it is a skilful craft, characterised by courage and respect for an opponent in the purest of contests.
But regardless of personal like or dislike of the sport, it has proven to be much more than the few bruising rounds in the ring the public sees.
Behind gym doors in Orange boxing has been an integral part of youth development programs for hundreds of teenagers who will never see their name on the undercard, let alone be in the main event.
Ah-See has earned his shot at the title and though he had to move to Sydney to take the step to elite level, his early years in the sport followed a path familiar to many boys who enjoy the sport.
Those running organisations like Mobsport, which focuses on introducing indigenous kids to boxing and the PCYC, know that for many boys the discipline, and culture of physical fitness and respect for opponents is boxing’s lasting legacy.
It is an outlet for adolescent energy, competition and, at times, aggression.
But it is also a training ground that demands discipline, hard work and respect for the rules, not just the rules of the ring but the rules of the club. Ah-See has been a regular in the sports pages of this newspaper for many years but he also featured on the front page in January.
At the height of the public outcry over recent so called “coward punch” assaults Ah-See challenged the perpetrators, pointing out the world of difference between a boxer and a cowardly thug.
It is a message which will only resonate when it comes from a role model younger men look up to.
Win or lose tonight, Ah-See should be proud of what he has already achieved when he steps into the ring.