Sport 'Trying to make a difference' - The motivation behind Maroons legends' boxing matches

08:36  11 february  2021
08:36  11 february  2021 Source:   sportingnews.com

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Justin Hodges, Sam Thaiday and Scott Prince all admit the competitive juices are flowing again ahead of their respective boxing matches in Townsville on Friday night, but the trio of footy legends say they're fighting for something more.

Born and raised in Cairns, Hodges wants to continue being a role model for Indigenous kids in Far North Queensland, while shining a light on some of the challenges facing the community.

After a 16 year long NRL career, Hodges now works with Prince in the Broncos' community department and will fight Sandor Earl on Friday.

The bout is an extension of that work.

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"I've just seen what's happening back home in Cairns and here in Townsville and I just know about all the struggles and challenges they've got," Hodges told Sporting News.

"I'm just trying to make a difference in their lives and give them something positive to focus on instead of all the negative.

"A lot of the kids probably don't have the confidence to challenge themselves either, but hopefuly they can find some inspiration."

With guys like Earl, Todd Carney, Willie Mason and Craig Gower on Friday's card, Thaiday said there are plenty of examples for kids to learn from.

"Youth crime in the North Queensland region is pretty crazy at the moment and we're just trying to show them that there are opportunities out there," Thaiday told Sporting News.

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"There's a lot of guys fighting on Friday who have made mistakes throughout their lives and their careers, but they've turned things around and learned from their mistakes.

"There are kids who have made mistakes as well, but you can learn from it, move on and become better humans."

Last month, Hodges, Thaiday, Prince and Neville Costigan made a trip to Palm Island, where they connected with the community, held a boxing session and gave out a few Steedens.

"That's another reason I agreed to do this, just to reach out to the Indigenous community," Prince said of the trip.

"It was great to get over to Palm Island, giving back to the community and hopefully just showing that we're positive role models and there are other good choices they can make in life."

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For Hodges, stepping into a boxing ring has never been about trying to rise up the rankings or winning titles. It's about stepping out of his comfort zone and setting an example.

"Through life you've gotta have challenges," he said.

"With rugby league, it's something I've always done. I wasn't nervous, I knew my role, I showed up on game day and did what I had to do.

"This is different. You're out of your comfort zone. You don't have mates to help you when you're not feeling the best or when you get hit.

"You've gotta get yourself up. You've gotta be the one to stand up and have a go. That's what I tell my kids at home and the young Indigenous kids I work with.

"Find a reason why, find a purpose and challenge yourself."

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