Illawarra boxer Alethea Messis is setting her sights high after a change in regulations paved the way for the 38-year-old to take out the 57kg division at the NSW novice titles on Sunday.
On just five weeks’ preparation and fighting out of her weight division, Messis defeated former golden gloves champion Jessica Zoricic by unanimous decision to take out the title after the boxing rule change breathed new life into a stalled career.
‘‘I won the state title in 2011 in the 54kg category but I wasn’t allowed to compete in the nationals because I turned 36 that year so I missed out on contention for the Olympics,’’ Messis explained.
‘‘I was going to go to nationals to see where I could go because that is what they were using [as selection trials]. They made a decision as the sanctioning body that because of my age I wasn’t allowed to compete.’’
The decision left Messis in retirement after just three fights but when the ABA increased the amateur age limit to 40 two months ago Messis got back in the gym.
‘‘In the last two months they increased the age limit so instead of competing in the masters category you can compete as an amateur until the age of 40.
‘‘We got ready in five weeks as soon as we found that out.
‘‘I wasn’t in the weight class I wanted to be but I still competed.’’
Messis, who has worked in law enforcement as a weapons and defensive instructor, won all three rounds on the judges’ scorecard, breaking her larger opponent’s nose and forcing the referee to administer two standing eight-counts.
‘‘I didn’t quite have the fitness to keep going and get the TKO,’’ Messis said.
‘‘It’s gone to 10-9 scoring so you have to win convincingly every round.’’
Messis was inspired to take up a boxing career in 2010, aged 36, after fighting a much tougher battle outside the ring.
‘‘In 2005 they found a tumour in my spine and there was a 50-50 chance that I might not walk again,’’ she said.
‘‘I had an operation to get that taken out and it took me two years to get my strength back.
‘‘I couldn’t move my left arm when they found it so to get my body back working equally on both sides it took a long time.
‘‘After going through that I wanted to do something that would help me get over the ordeal and I think any martial arts or fighting sport really shows bravery, courage and most importantly a strong mind.’’
With the 57kg novice title in her possession Messis has turned her attention to the next NSW open event in November where she hopes to fight in her preferred 54kg weight class.
‘‘There’s another state open event in November and I’ll be trying to win at 54kg so that way I’ll be contending in two weight divisions at nationals in February.
‘‘If I was going to go further with it I would like to do it in my own [54kg] division.’’