'I'd be in jail': How boxing saved Dwight Ritchie's life

Dwight Ritchie walked a perilous path to the boxing ring, but once he was there it felt like home.

Set to face off against Tim Tszyu, Ritchie reflects on the many trials and tribulations that made him who he is today.

By Dwight Ritchie

If I wasn’t a boxer I’d be in jail, 100 percent. The things I was getting up to as a kid…

We just had no direction and we were following that same cycle that was around us then, the same traps everyone else was getting caught in.

I was lucky I found boxing, because without it there’s no doubt in my mind that I’d be locked up right now instead of in the gym preparing for a fight against Tim Tszyu, still working on my dream of a world title shot.

Boxing gives me structure, and routine. A bloke like me really needs structure in my life and something to work towards.

With boxing there’s so much hope and promise. Everything is in your reach if you want to go and get it. It’s different to footy because you can’t rely on 21 other blokes, you can only rely on yourself.

You can have everyone in the world around you saying this or teaching you that, but when you’re in the trenches in that ring, if you can’t pull something out, if you can’t motivate yourself, you’ve got nothing.

I like having that responsibility and onus on myself, knowing if I don’t give it everything I can’t blame anyone else.

I hated the world and everyone in it

I went to McGuire College in Shepparton but I only made it to year seven. I was in a bit of trouble growing up. A bit angry.

There were programs for disengaged and troubled youths. I did a few, trying to get year 10 equivalents, but I wasn’t interested in anything to do with that.

Dwight Ritchie has opened up about his path to the boxing ring before his fight against Tim Tszyu. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

If I wasn’t playing sport I was just roaming the street, being a bad kid. Footy and boxing was my escape.

I hated the world and hated everyone in it. Whenever I got a chance to play sport I loved it and clung to it.

When I was a young fella I wanted to blame everyone else for my problems. Everything was everyone else’s fault. It was ‘why is this always happening to me?’

I’m in a position now that everything is on me. I have to face it myself. I can’t put the blame on anyone else. I love that about the sport.

I started with footy but then I found boxing and from the moment I threw that first punch I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

It’s more like a father-son

There’s no doubt my mum will be the loudest fan when I fight in Sydney on August 14.

She’s never really gotten used to me getting hit. Her mother instincts kick in and she wants to get in there and give me a hand. She’s slowly learning to deal with it.

It must have been hard for her at times and not just because I was trouble.

I battled cancer for the first two years of my life. Firstly at six months, and then it returned at 18 months.

I can’t imagine the pain that my mother and nan went through with all the back and forth trips to doctors in Melbourne. Thankfully, since then there has be no signs of it returning.

At first she didn’t want me getting hit, didn’t want that for me at all. She eventually came around.

Once I got into boxing there were a few less police station visits she had to come down for – she saved a bit of money in petrol I guess!

I’ve been fortunate enough that the people who came into my life in boxing, even though they might not have been the best people themselves when they were younger, had a great outlook on life when I met them.

A lot of my trainers, speaking to them about their upbringings, gave me a lot of guidance.

If I wasn’t playing sport I was just roaming the street, being a bad kid. Footy and boxing was my escape. I hated the world and hated everyone in it.

Boxing trainers are usually more than trainers. The relationship is a lot closer than that. It’s more like a father-son. Not that I really know a lot about that.

My father didn’t have much us to do with us as kids, myself and a few of my brothers. He was only part of my life for a small amount of time.

He moved up to Alice Springs and later Rockhampton and still lives up there as far as I know.

My father is well known around the Shepparton area boxing scene. That was strange, everyone knows everything about you and who you are, but you don’t know who you are.

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