Preparation and planning are vital tools for all sports, but there are few where it's more critical than in boxing.
For Bendigo local Mat Sobey, seven months of preparation and a shrewd plan allowed the 41-year-old from 'Dlboxingandfitness' to conquer the ring last weekend.
Sobey fought for the Victoria Masters State Title in the 88-90kg weight division against former professional fighter and ex-WBF Masters world title holder Adam Leavers and shocked the 200-plus strong crowd at the South Eastern Entertainment Centre in Ferntree Gully, winning in the first round by technical knockout.
A ploy by Sobey's trainer and Maldon Football Club senior coach Damien Lock to pressurise Leavers early was executed to perfection by his fighter as Sobey racked up the gym's first win.
"I'm very proud to have got that first win for the gym," Sobey said.
"There was a lot of nerves as it was a big build-up for me due to Adam having ten pro fights under his belt while I had a 3-4 record in amateur fights, so I was the underdog.
"But Damien (Lock) created a good plan for me around applying unrelenting pressure early, which I was able to do.
"I got him on an eight-count within 15 seconds of the bell being rang and continued to put on the pressure once he got back up before the referee stopped the fight 53 seconds into the first round."
Lock - who played 18 games for Carlton and is a former professional fighter himself - said he is incredibly proud of how Sobey has committed to his training and listened to the plan put in place to win.
"It was awesome to watch Mat (Sobey) win a state title," Lock said.
"In the ring, he listened completely and executed our plan, which was very impressive, but outside the ring, his dedication has been second to none.
"He's turned his life around big time, and it's actually been pretty inspiring."
Sobey lost 17kgs in the seven months leading up to the fight.
He said while ensuring he kept fit as he enters his 40s was an important motivator, he dedicated his journey to late friend and cricket team-mate Dallas Keogh-Frankling, who tragically died while playing for Castlemaine under-18s earlier in 2023.
"I have a good mate who lost a son due to a football injury, and that was a real turning point for me losing such a great young kid that I'd been playing cricket with, so I wanted to dedicate my fitness journey and fight to him," Sobey said.
"I'm also 41 years of age now, and post-COVID-19, it's been apparent to me more than ever to stay fit and healthy."
Sobey's inner and external drives were clearly crucial to securing the upset state title victory, but none of it would have been possible without Lock.
"Damien is very encouraging and patient," Sobey said.
"He's leading many people in the community around health and fitness.
"There's a real buzz around the gym after the win, and we've got a few younger guys fighting down in Melbourne on amateur cards soon, so we're all looking forward to that.
"Boxing in Bendigo hasn't been strong for some time, but Damien is bringing it back."
As a nice bonus for the triumph, Dlboxingandfitness was awarded a $500 grant to improve gym equipment.