Shaun Thomas, a 41-year-old Aboriginal boxer hailing from Cape Barren Island in Tasmania, has broken barriers as Boxing Victoria's first Aboriginal coach. Despite being in semi-retirement, Thomas embraced his assistant coaching role with passion, just weeks before the Australian Schools Boxing Championships. He takes immense pride in this historical achievement, emphasizing that such positions should be earned on merit, not handed out arbitrarily. For Thomas, coaching goes beyond boxing skills; it's about being a role model and leader for aspiring athletes.
During the recent nationals in Adelaide, Thomas played a crucial role in Victoria's success, coaching the state's amateur boxers to a remarkable 19-gold medal haul, including four golds from talented female fighters, some of whom he personally mentored. Filled with emotions and fully invested in their development, Thomas found immense joy in shaping the minds and fists of these young boxers, taking part in every aspect of their preparation.
In his first year as a coach, Thomas has already achieved significant milestones, guiding three female novice state champions and two elite state champions to success. His dedication to coaching and his cultural connection with the boxers have earned him respect and admiration from Boxing Victoria's experienced team. Thomas envisions a future with more Aboriginal coaches in the sport, nurturing talented Indigenous combatants and creating opportunities for them.
His deep understanding of the fighters' experiences, from mental health and emotional well-being to managing weight and eating disorders, enables him to connect with his athletes on a deeper level. Thomas aims to be one of the country's best coaches, setting new precedents for First Nations boxers and promoting cultural diversity and inclusion within boxing. He believes the sport has a way to go in this regard compared to other sports like footy but remains committed to empowering and guiding young fighters to achieve their dreams.
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Photo Courtesy National Indigenous Times
Courtesy National Indigenous Times