Justis Huni, Olympics, injury, Paul Gallen fight



Boxing Australia head coach Kevin Smith loses a fighter after Justis Huni was forced to withdraw from the Tokyo Games in a “big disappointment” for the nation’s medal hopes.

In Tokyo, Huni was seen as a real medal threat for an Australian team that has never won gold at the Games. Instead, he will be missing after aggravating a hand injury – which he suffered in sparring – during his 10-round beating against Paul Gallen less than two weeks ago.

The 22-year-old only turned professional after qualifying for Tokyo. He won the Australian heavyweight title in his debut, before landing a flurry of victories that culminated with the Gallen show putting money in his pocket and weight on his name.

It was a risk with his ultimate goal – the Olympics – just around the corner.

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Huni, the super heavyweight, who moves like a middleweight, had dreamed of the Games since he was seven. But while Smith and most of the Australian boxing team trained in Colorado Springs, USA, Huni sold his first major pay-per-view event.

Huni’s case was the first of its kind for Boxing Australia. They had never had a fighter turned professional while competing as an amateur; a reality made possible by a modification of the Olympic regulations.

“He had different obligations,” Smith said foxsports.com.au. “It has become his livelihood. It has become what he does for a living.

With Boxing Australia being a camp based program, Smith and co. could only invite the fighters to join the team in preparation.

“If the athletes choose not to accept the invitation, then we can’t really force them,” Smith explained of the current system.

Highlights of the full Huni vs Gallen fight | 04:51

Smith confirmed to foxsports.com.au that he was not made aware of Huni’s training injury at the time. As for the decision to go ahead with fights against Christian Tsoye and Gallen, he added: “It’s not for me to judge.”

“Yes, obviously that was a risk that didn’t pay off,” Smith said of Huni’s preparation, while admitting that training injuries can happen at any time, “be it up to the point. ‘inside the national program or outside the national program “.

When this happens outside of the camp, however, there are obvious obstacles.

“When athletes get ready outside of the program, we have no idea, we have no control over what’s going on,” Smith said.

“So whatever the consequences, the risk is taken by the athlete and the coach. They are responsible for their actions, themselves.

More than anything, Smith is worried about Huni, who now has to face the disappointment of missing his dream.

“Our main focus now would be the well-being of Justis, the way he reacts if he loses the Olympics and the chance to represent Australia there,” said Smith.

“We are very much aware that this is a truly unfortunate circumstance, and we are really concerned that Justis is doing in the best possible way.”

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