Former boxing Olympian and Moree-homegrown Cameron Hammond is preparing to step back in the ring, after more than a year-long hiatus.
“I feel great. I feel like I’ve still got it, that I haven’t lost anything,” Cameron said.
The welterweight boxer will jump into the boxing ring at Pullman Hotel in Brisbane on June 29. It will be his first boxing bout since his last fight in November 2016, which also marked his first upset.
Until then, Cameron had kept a spotless score card with 16 wins to his name. However, it was the 12 round clash against Kris George that turned his world upside down.
“I didn’t take the defeat too well. I wasn’t properly prepared for the fight and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind,” Cameron said.
A long period of self-reflection followed his defeat.
“I just needed some time away from the ring. I needed to make up my mind whether or not I wanted to continue to box,” Cameron said.
The 28 year old admitted his interest in the sport had started to wane, after 15 years of boxing.
“It’s such a hard sport. I guess at the time I was around a lot of negative people. I didn’t surround myself with positive people who were heading down the same path as me.”
But close to one-and-a-half years of work in a warehouse was all the experience the boxer needed to know what he wanted to do.
“Working a nine to five job, Monday to Friday, is hard. It’s not a lifestyle that’s for me. I thought I’d give boxing another crack. I’m only 28. I still feel young,” Cameron said.
Since the beginning of the year, Cameron has put in the hard yards. Every day after work, he gives two hours of intense training at the gym. He admitted, he felt the burn after a long break.
“I feel like I didn’t lose anything, just a bit of fitness,” he said.
Cameron is training under the guidance of Glen Rushton, and frequently spars alongside former Welterweight Champion Jeff Horn.
“It’s good to see someone you know and train with in the boxing ring, it gives you confidence,” he said of Jeff Horn and his latest defeat against Terrence Crawford. “It might not have been the result he was hoping for, but he gave it his all.”
Just as Cameron looks with pride at fellow boxers in the ring, the same can be said for many Moree residents about Cameron.
“When I announced I was making a return to boxing, I got so many messages on social media from people who said they were happy to see me back.”
Cameron said he could always rely on Moree for support.
“Even when I was an amateur boxer, people in Moree were throwing their support behind me. When I had a fight night in town, there was always a good crowd. They are always loud.”
It’s a support that has followed him from the moment he first put on the boxing gloves at Moree PCYC.
“My friend kept nagging me to go to the boxing gym, but I didn’t want to get punched in the face. I was 13,” he laughed.
While the support has always been there, Cameron admitted there were some people who tried to make life tough for him.
“As a young indigenous man, I felt there were a lot of people who didn’t want me to succeed.”
His brushes with racism and put-downs only fueled his drive to box harder.
“The more someone said I couldn’t box, the more I wanted to prove to them that I could,” Cameron said.
And his success speaks for itself: a former holder of the World Boxing Association Oceania Welterweight Title and appearances at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and 2012 London Olympics.
“I just want to live a good life. I want to have a nice house and live a good life. I’m not there yet, but I’m getting pretty close to it,” he said.
While Cameron has his eyes on the Australian Welterweight Championship, he said he hoped to be a role model to other children.
“There’s a lot of talented, young indigenous kids out there. Sometimes they don’t have the opportunity, or if they do they don’t take it. I want them to see what I have done, and see they can do it themselves.”