Steve boxes his way to Olympic spot

PUBLISHED: 14:57 08 May 2008 | UPDATED: 22:07 26 October 2009

Steve Sutherland on his way to victory in the final

Steve Sutherland on his way to victory in the final

A FORMER WGC schoolboy has boxed his way into this year s Olympics – for Australia! Teenager Steve Sutherland, who won a national schoolboys title as a Monk s Walk pupil, has secured his ticket to this summer s Beijing Games after winning the Oceania Oly

Steve Sutherland getting a kiss from Miss Samoa

A FORMER WGC schoolboy has boxed his way into this year's Olympics - for Australia!

Teenager Steve Sutherland, who won a national schoolboys' title as a Monk's Walk pupil, has secured his ticket to this summer's Beijing Games after winning the Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament held in Samoa.

Sutherland, who will turn 18 on August 19 while in Beijing, will now represent Australia in the flyweight division against the world's best.

Steve and his dad Gregg emigrated to Australia from Welwyn four years ago and the teenage fighter has certainly made a name for himself Down Under with a string of superb performance in the ring.

Steve Sutherland with fellow gold medal winners

He said: "This is awesome, it makes the last nine years of training worthwhile.

"I'm just going to get there and do what I have to do.

"My objective is to win my first fight and we will see what happens after that."

A former member of the successful Stevenage amateur club, Sutherland will be the youngest member of the Australian boxing squad in Beijing.

"I'm still only 17 and could be fighting men up to 34 years old, so it will be a good experience for me, but you never know what's going to happen in this game," he said.

Steve now lives at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra where he is boxing full time.

He represented his adopted country in the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Chicago, USA, last year, losing to American opponent Luis Yanez in the light flyweight division.

The Australian champion has now moved up a weight category and is fighting at 51kg.

He showed his undoubted class in the Olympic qualifier in Apia, where he beat Samoan champion Tufulele Iulai Tuiavu in the semi-final.

Sutherland was leading 19-3 at the end of the first round and had cut his opponent over the eye.

The doctor was called in to have a look at the cut at the beginning of the second round and after Steve's next attack the Samoan trainer threw in the towel.

The former WGC schoolboy fought Francis Oaike from Papua New Guinea in the final.

Sutherland dominated the southpaw throughout the fight, which went the distance. The bout ended with Steve winning 16-8 on points.

Johnny Hoyne, who is Steve's trainer in Victoria, said: "We were preparing Steve for the 2012 Olympics in London, but he has come on so far and so fast that he is way above his years.

"The way he boxed in the Oceania Olympic qualifiers in Samoa, you would think he was a 27-year-old."

Steve is now going on a two-month tour with the Australian boxing team to 10 different countries before heading off to Beijing.

At 17, Steve is the youngest member of the squad and will be the youngest boxer to ever represent Australia in the Olympics.

Sutherland is the second Times Territory fighter to have booked a place in this year's Olympics.

Hatfield welterweight Billy Joe Saunders will box for GB in the Beijing Games.

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