Bound for Tokyo
GAILES boxer Paulo Aokuso will fight for gold at the Tokyo Olympics.
The 22-year-old St Peter Claver product has secured his place on the Australian team and is targeting nothing less than a podium finish.
"I can't wait," he said.
"I want to place.
"If I don't get a medal I'll probably try to go to the Commonwealth Games."
With the Olympics postponed until next July, those to have already qualified are locked in.
Aokuso booked his ticket to Japan at an international qualifying event in Jordan in early March.
Fighting in a maiden international competition shifted from China to Amman due to coronavirus, Aokuso felt like he belonged.
The 81kg light heavyweight breezed through the heats, with his toughest test coming against a hardened world number two hailing from Uzbekistan. In the semi he disposed of a skilful Chinese tactician to set up a chance to upstage the best in the world from Kazakhstan.
The relatively green Aussie battled gallantly. As the final bell sounded, he was pipped on a split decision by the vastly more experienced warrior.
There was still cause for celebration, however, because Aokuso had completed his Olympic qualification mission.
In doing so, the multi-talented athlete who also excelled at rugby league as a member of the Brisbane Broncos development squad and Ipswich Diggers, had achieved a lifelong goal.
"It still hasn't hit me yet," he said.
"It feels good to be part of the Olympic squad. It is just my fifth year of boxing and I've only had about 30 fights, so making the Olympic team is pretty crazy."
Having grown tired of footy, Aokuso's dad Tigilau suggested he and brother Austin, 21, take up the sport he developed a passion for over many years in the ring.
After learning the sweet science from their father, the pair found they progressed rapidly so decided to stick with the sport.
As a result of the teachings of Tigilau, who was a natural left-hander, Aokuso possesses an unorthodox technique.
The natural right-hander fights Southpaw because it was the only way his old man knew.
Rather than being a technical flaw, he sees it as an advantage because he has his dominant hand at the front and control bouts with his jab.
Tigilau imparted all the knowledge he could before his sons spent three years under Russell Finn at Inala, where they were instilled with values of discipline.
St Peter Claver rugby league coach Todd Riggs also had an influential hand in shaping the work ethic of the rising boxers who intend to go pro after fulfilling their amateur ambitions.
Now training with Geoff Frazer at newstead's Shape Up Performance Centre, the elder of the two has been on a steep upswing since taking his first Australian Title last November.
Undeterred after matching some of the globe's most dangerous glovemen in Jordan, he believes he can close the gap on the Kazakhstani in the next 15 months and ascend to gold.
"For sure 100 per cent," Aokuso said.
"He is really strong.
"He has been around for a long time.
"My weakness is probably my body strength and conditioning. It (the postponement) is a good thing because we will be better prepared. It gives me more time to study and condition. It also gives my brother a chance to qualify as well."