THEY went with an Australian title in their sights and returned, if not champions, then as close as they could get.
Emerald's Fighters Inc boxers were thrown in at the deep end against some of the country's leading amateur boxers at the boxing league's Australian Titles at the weekend.
Many of the Emerald troupe stepped up in age, weight and experience at the national event, and all held their own admirably, according trainer Blair Wilson.
Local fighter Tristan Martin didn't hesitate when Wilson asked if he was willing to forgo 6kg to box in the 81kg division, taking gold with ease.
"The bloke he fought was a giant… he was taller than me," Wilson said.
"I wouldn't say it was the classiest fight I have seen him box, but he (Tristan) never let him get a distance on him."
For fellow Fighters Inc boxer Aaron Sinn, it may have been his first appearance at the Australian Titles but it was certainly not the first encounter he had had with his opponent Tyson Best.
Sinn and Best are cousins and they matched in a bout at Queensland State Titles earlier this year, which Best won.
They were rematched at the Australian Titles and again Best got the better of the Emerald battler.
Sinn, however, took it all in his stride and said the experience was reward enough.
"The first time we fought we were a bit touchy," Sinn said.
"(But) this time we just got into it.
"Blair was pretty impresed so that's the main thing."
Also boxing out of the Emerald gym was the 63.5kg Sam Payne who heeded his trainer's call to step up in weight, taking out bronze.
"He didn't have the stamina, but he was definitely the better fighter," Wilson said.
Emerald's Matt Grant was also in contention in higher divisions, "lifting five levels" in his first fight, Wilson said, before losing his second on a split-points decision.
The trainer said he couldn't be more proud of all his young fighters.
"Not many kids get to this sort of level in such a short space of time," Wilson said.
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