Monique Tucker is a bright young woman keen to succeed in the noble art of amateur boxing.
Tucker, 22, is trained by Illawarra Amateur Boxing Association president Bill Corbett, and will be competing in the NSW titles at the URAC Sports Hub, University of Wollongong, over the weekend.
She is something of a trailblazer for female boxers who are now making their presence felt in elite competitions.
Tucker, who spars mainly with male boxers because there aren't that many women involved, started as a Muay Thai fighter but switched to boxing four years ago.
Now with the state titles being held in her home city for the first time since 1981, she couldn't be happier. "This is a dream come true. When I first put on a pair of boxing gloves I thought this is great, it's something I can do," Tucker said. "From when I was younger, it was all training in a small country town ... because girls couldn't fight in NSW.
"So it's wonderful now that we do have the opportunity. It's great for me now to be able to fight and support women in the Illawarra in front of girls from rural and regional areas and say, 'I can do this, you can do this.'
"If I can win a state title, it's a step in the right direction for rural and regional girls and a dream come true for me."
As the championships, which were officially opened yesterday by Wollongong Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery begin to take shape, Tucker said she did have a few butterflies in her stomach.
"While I'm a fan of all of God's creatures and the metaphors that they inspire, these butterflies have got to die," Tucker said.
Many years ago Muhammad Ali made famous his quote "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." Tucker will be hoping to draw on some Muhammad Ali inspiration when she steps in the ring at the Sports Hub.
The IABA with its base at the UOW is looking to host more tournaments including major events including international boxers from Asia and the South Pacific.
"When we look at the big picture it's helping the Wollongong economy," Corbett said.
Hosting the national championships would be a realistic goal in about five years.