Alice Springs light welterweight Henry Collins was unlucky to draw US champion Ricardo Williams for his first fight and was caught out by the quick counterpunching of the American, who led 21-5 in the fourth round when the fight was stopped.
Henry surprised Ricardo Williams early and his straight right took him to a 3-0 lead midway through the first round. But Ricardo Williams avoided Collins’ right for the rest of the bout and was quick to get under the 23-year-old to lead 8-4 after two rounds and 14-5 going into the last.
Ricardo Williams then piled on the points in rapid succession to be the 10th US fighter through to the second round, while Henry was the fourth Australian to bow out in his first fight.
Arguably the highest point of any sportsperson’s career would be the opportunity to represent their country at the Olympic Games. Think about it – the international atmosphere, the pomp and ceremony, the screaming fans and the genuine excitement of competing at the highest level in the world of your chosen sport.
Such memories would obviously last a lifetime; indeed, many athletes say that nothing ever tops that surreal feeling of just being there. Sounds like a difficult thing to achieve, if not almost impossible. So why even try?
Well, that’s one question Alice Springs boxing identity Henry Collins has never stopped to ask himself. And a good thing too, because he might not have made it to Sydney in 2000 otherwise.
At the time, everyone was whispering about a young boxer from the Red Centre who was a real star on the rise, possibly even a medal contender in the light-welterweight division.
Unfortunately luck wasn’t on Henry’s side when it came time to fight competition favourite, American Ricardo Williams, who eventually took the silver medal. But missing out on a medal didn’t dampen Henry’s spirits one little bit. Just being there was enough.
“I can’t really explain the feeling,” says Henry, now 30. “It was a real experience to be able to perform at the highest level possible.”
Since the Olympics, Henry has been focusing on finishing his apprenticeship as a cabinet-maker (he has about 18 months to go). But for an elite sportsman such as himself, the lure of the ring is always there.
And so he’s now back in training, hoping to qualify for the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. To do this he has to perform well at the Australian titles this month, as well as the Oceania titles to be held in New Zealand in April.
Henry has been boxing for 12 years. “I started with my brothers and cousins at the local gym,” he recalls. “They were looking for fighters so we all went down and had a go. We were sick of playing football all the time.”
Henry has been coaching himself for the past five years and says it’s no easy thing. His training consists of running in the morning and going to the gym after work.
“It’s hard to get myself motivated but if I want to achieve my goals I simply have to do it,” he says nonchalantly.
That includes eating well and avoiding alcohol, cigarettes and drugs.
“A lot of young boxers out there have the talent but just won’t commit themselves. They go smoking and drinking and that. Just no good.”
Away from the ring Henry likes to run with the ball – football, that is. A keen touch footy player, he also plays for Central Memorial Bulls in the Alice Springs rugby league competition.
In addition to the Commonwealth Games, Henry has his sights set on next year’s world championships, not to mention the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
“I’m already starting to feel like I did before I competed in the Olympics!” he laughs.
Vibe wishes Henry the best of luck with his future competitions and hopes to see him representing our country at the Commonwealth Games.