Sam Ah-See has long been a sportsman I’ve admired while working at the Central Western Daily.
The drive to succeed, dedication to his craft and speed around the ring qualities to marvel.
And that admiration grew over the weekend.
Ah-See called time on his boxing career on Saturday – a call that came as a surprise to most considering the southpaw was in the middle of a training camp with Justine Fortune in Los Angeles.
The 26-year-old announced the end of his professional career on Facebook, detailing his battle with “a loop of doubt and questioning” over the course of the last couple of years.
His battle seemingly starting before his massive fight with Arnel Tinampay in Orange in 2015.
On that night Ah-See set the record straight, dominating his welterweight bout with the Filipino gun and putting to bed any doubt remaining from the pair's first fight in 2013.
Ah-See won that night too in Dubbo, under somewhat controversial circumstances, but in the rematch Ah-See took everything he's learned since and pummelled Tinampay into submission for eight rounds, scoring a comprehensive unanimous points victory.
Despite battling a broken hand, the Orange product won over all three judges to score in his favour - 80-72, 78-76, 78-73.
To the boxing fan, what a night. For Ah-See though, it’s now clear his biggest battle wasn’t with the gloves on.
It takes a brave man to step into the ring.
It takes an even braver one to call time on a career reaching its peak to shift his focus to more important things in life.
Ah-See has a young daughter, one he’s battled to support given, as his Facebook post detailed, in the five years as a professional boxer he’s earned the equivalent of someone working full-time at McDonald’s over the course of a 12 month period.
“Try raising a five-year-old daughter with that type of money”, he said in the announcement.
It’d be nigh on impossible.
Add to that he’s lost great mate Terry Brown and his father in the space of the last 14 months and the mental toll of it all was obviously weighing on the man.
Ah-See said “I'm not sad, I'm actually glad I'm out” in his post, which is a great thing for his future.
The 13-0-1 record has defined Ah-See the boxer for the majority of his adult life.
Now, free of life defined by a ring, a rejuvenated Sam has the chance to mold himself into the man he’s dreamed of being away from the sport that’s dominated his story to date.
Matt Findlay will catch up with Ah-See on his return to Australia to tell that yarn late this week, which should be a gripping read.
6 HOUR EPIC
There’s six hours of racing in the Bathurst 6 Hour – earth shattering, we know.
But that fact the decisive move came with just four minutes to go over the course of 540 minutes is incredible.
Luke Searle raced down the inside of defending champion Chaz Mostert at The Chase in a moment that will be replayed for many years to come.
Searle’s clutch drive under pressure gave co-drivers Barry Graham and Paul Morris victory, and made the latter the first person to win the Bathurst 1000 plus the 6 and 12 Hour events.
“Oberon is still the team to beat, for me.”
At first, that comment from Mick Sullivan in the lead-up to round two of the Group 10 season came as a little bit of a surprise.
The Tigers are tough, that much we knew, but premiership favourites? Surely not.
Sullivan’s Orange CYMS took care of business against Bathurst Panthers on Thursday night, 22-16, at Wade Park to remain undefeated alongside the Tigers after the opening fortnight of the season.
The Tigers have the benefit of five home games in the opening six rounds of the season, meaning Luke Branighan’s side will more than likely be sitting pretty by the time Oberon faces its first real test of the season – coincidentally against Sullivan’s CYMS at Wade Park in round seven.
Make no mistake about it, the Tigers are the real deal, but so too are CYMS – the six-point win over early season favourites Panthers a sure-fire sign there’s going to be plenty of football in Orange come September, 2017.
While on in-form sides, Mudgee’s win over Bathurst St Pat’s extended the defending champions’ winning streak to nine on Friday.
The Dragons aren’t playing good footy so far in 2017 – I think they’d admit that, too – but Peter Hickman’s side is doing enough to win, a 14-10 victory in Cowra and a 16-10 win over St Pat’s at Glen Willow indicative of that.
Tellingly, the Dragons streak includes six away wins, which should serve them well ahead of another road trip this Sunday against Hawks.
Last week, Western claiming the spoils in back-to-back country championship finals, both in extra-time, took out performance of the week honours.
The champion Rams under 16s and under 18s sides earned two-thirds of the vote, with Emus’ 10-try rampage over Forbes in the grand final rematch of the Blowes Clothing Cup second with 14 per cent of the votes.