Celebrated boxing coach faces the fight of his life
GUY Mallet considers his Dad a true champion.
He's been a mentor, provider, disciplinarian, coach, and most importantly, a true friend.
In the latter stages of his life, 83-year-old Guy Snr has proven an inspiration as he faces some challenging health battles.
He is beset by a series of ailments which seemingly snowballed after he suffered a heart attack at age 45.
His latest opponent is cancer. Blood transfusions are part of his everyday life now and a few "close calls" have seen him in and out of hospital.
Guy and his four siblings have marvelled at their father's courage and determination, which prompted them to buy him a gift that carries special significance.
Guy Jnr saw a replica World Boxing Council title belt for sale on eBay.
Guy Snr was a boxing coach in Rockhampton in the late 1970s and early '80s, training about 40 fighters, many of whom went on to state and national success.
Young Guy was among them. He had countless fights in his 10-year career, one of the more memorable when he took on the nephew of former world champion Lionel Rose for the gold medal at the nationals in Melbourne in 1980.
"I saw that belt and I thought it would be perfect for Dad," Guy Jnr said.
"His fight for life has been harder than any fight I reckon I ever had in the ring - and some of those fights were pretty tough.
"He's stubborn and he's so determined but those close shaves made me think about everything he did for us kids and we wanted to give something back.
"A few times when we nearly lost Dad he said: 'The bloke upstairs doesn't want me, the bloke downstairs isn't game to take me in case I take over and I've got too many people on earth to annoy yet'."
In a reverse of the usual sporting tradition, it was Guy Snr who followed his son into boxing. "Dad took me over to the police club to do a bit of sport. We had a look at trampoline, gymnastics, judo and some other things and I said I wanted to do boxing," Guy Jnr said.
"Dad ummed and ahhed about it but agreed, probably thinking it was only going to be a six-month phase.
"It would actually last 10 years."
That was how Guy Snr was introduced to the fight game. He learnt from watching his son being taught.
When asked if he'd ever had any fights himself, he replied with a cheeky grin: "Only at school."
Guy Snr decided to take the leap as a boxing coach and started training youngsters at his North Rockhampton home in 1975.
Getting the fighters fit was his number one priority.
"It was always about getting them in condition first and then you could teach them how to throw punches," he said.
There were a lot of fighters who would come and train and not compete and then there were others who would train and have just one or two fights.
"Then you had the boys who really wanted to box - you could pick them pretty much straight away."
One of his standout performers was Joey Butler who took part in a practice fight against Norman Stevens, who was bound for the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
"He was tough as this table, Joey was," Guy Snr said, slapping the solid timber structure in his kitchen.
One of his proudest achievements was managing the Queensland team in 1980.
Guy Snr is reluctant to nominate the best fighter he ever trained, and he remembers fondly the road trips with his young charges to all corners of the state.
"We used to travel from Cairns down to Goondiwindi. We'd go to tournaments every weekend and went to nearly every town in Queensland," he said.
"It was great to be involved. You met so many different people who just all mixed in together."
Guy Jnr said boxing taught him discipline and respect and how to work hard.
"I always thought Dad was a hard bastard as a trainer. He was always on top of us, we had to get the condition," he said.
"As I got older, I realised he wasn't a bastard at all; he was just doing everything he could to look after us and make us better."
The heart attack spelt the end of Guy Snr's involvement in boxing, but he still holds the memories dear, as does his son.
"We made some really good friends and we had so many good times," Guy Jnr said.