Leapai faces fears ahead of title fight
BOXING: Aussie hopeful Alex Leapai has revealed he almost turned into the "Hulk" when he came face-to-face for the first time with towering Ukrainian boxing legend Wladimir Klitschko in Germany this month.
Leapai will tangle with the two-metre plus Ukrainian for the world heavyweight title in Oberhausen, Germany on April 26, confident he can pull off one of boxing greatest upsets.
Far from being intimidated by Klitschko, who has successfully defended his world heavyweight title 15 times, the 34 year-old Brisbane father of six admitted his initial reaction as they faced off was to "get it on".
"When I saw Klitschko I kinda realised, hey man, I'm actually fighting for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world," Leapai revealed before a day out with his wife, Theresa, six children and mother Leitu at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast yesterday.
"The funny thing, my emotions kinda switched over and I pretty much turned into the Hulk you know, like let's get it on, why wait, let's get in on tonight, right now.
"Fortunately, my trainer Noel Thornberry told me to settle down. He (Klitschko) came across as a gentleman so I had to show the same respect."
Critics have given the Brisbane delivery driver no hope of beating the Ukrainian giant but Leapai refuses to contemplate losing the biggest fight of his life.
He believes he can turn the clock back to 1964 when an unheralded fighter named Cassius Clay shocked the boxing world, giving world heavyweight champion Sonny Liston a "whupping" at a packed Miami Beach Convention Hall.
Leapai has watched video of the great heavyweight battles such as The Rumble in the Jungle and the Thriller in Manila. He knows his fight with Klitschko could be just as brutal.
"I've seen Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier fight, all those guys, those guys are legends. One day I want to be in that class," he said.
While he is extremely humble, Leapai is also proud of the fact he is the first Australian in more than a century, and only the second Samoan-born fighter after David Tua, to contest a world heavyweight title.
Leapai said he always thought about his wife and kids when he was away in training so to be able to spend the day with them all was very special before going into an intense eight weeks of training.
"The kids know this is what I have to do to put food on the table," he said before they shamed him into riding the theme park's Tower of Terror, which clearly terrified him.
"This fight is not just for the kids. Everyone knows I've hit rock bottom (going to prison for assault) and been places where no parents wants their kids to go," he said. "It all comes down to the choices you make. Everyone gets a second chance; it's what you do with that chance."