Among those on the edge of their seat waiting on the result of Alex Volkanovski's UFC World Championship featherweight title defence against Max Holloway on Sunday was wife Emma Volkanovski.
No one was more relieved than her and the family when his hand was raised high in the air after his come-from-behind win on Fight Island.
Away from all but a few members of his team it was a different lead up and fight for Volkanovski. But he dug deep and did himself, his family, Windang, the Illawarra and Australia proud by giving his all to win in a close decision.
Until his hand was raised both fighters thought they had done enough to claim victory but no one watching was certain.
Confident her husband's sheer determination and never-give-up attitude would secure him a win, Emma Volkanovski was still on the edge of her seat as she waited to see which way the judging went.
"I am ecstatic," Mrs Volkanovski said a few minutes later.
"But I am so glad it is over now. It was so close. At the end I was thinking Hollaway has got rounds one and two and Alex has got rounds four and five. But who has got three?"
He just dug deep and pulled out everything that he could to try and bring that victory homeEmma Volkanovski
It was so tense during the fight Mrs Volkanovski grabbed hold of some bedding for comfort.
"I held a pillow in front of me and just squeezed that. He just dug deep and pulled out everything that he could to try and bring that victory home.
"Max did well. He made adjustments from the first fight and they put on a very, very close fight.
"I sent Alex a text as soon as the fight ended. I just have to wait for him to get to his phone and get back to me. I am not going to be able to see him until the end of the month because of quarantine when he returns to Australia on Monday."
A Facetime with her and their two daughters Ariana, 5, and Airlie, 3, was a high priority for Volkanovski after the fight.
Mrs Volkanovski said they were all looking forward to a big hug as soon as he is allowed to leave a Sydney hotel after two weeks in quarantine.
And they intend to give him one on behalf of the whole Illawarra community for they way he has lifted so many spirits during COVID-19.
"I just want to thank everyone for their support," Mrs Volkanovski said.
"Every time Alex fights the whole community pulls together to cheer him on.
"There is so much community spirit as everyone in Wollongong and Shellharbour rallies behind him. Alex and I love that and would like to thank everyone for that."
Central Hotel Shellharbour hosts footy and gym friends
In December the Central Hotel Shellharbour had 300 people in a function room to see Alex Volkanovski win the UFC World featherweight title.
But seven months later COVID-19 restrictions limited the number to 80.
Licensee Jonathon Williams said Central Hotel was still eager to support such a great athlete, local hero and role model.
"Each time we host an event dedicated to Alex, we are overwhelmed by the positive vibes and awesome community spirit," Mr Williams said.
Among those present on Sunday were many of Volkanovski's football mates such as Ngatai Hetet.
The Whitmarsh and Beavis families were also there.
Their children train at the same Windang gym and appreciate all the time the champ gives them.
Nearby was Tania Ferraro, who has trained at the gym for a decade and watched Volkanovski's rise.
They had all seen him fight on the big screen before but none had witnessed such a close battle.
As Holloway scored well in the early rounds the room fell silent.
But as Alexander The Great fought his way back the cheers grew louder until everyone jumped to their feet with excitement when he was declared the winner.
Mr Hetet, Ms Ferraro and the Whitmarsh and Beavis families said Volkanovski's fighting spirit and never give up attitude would do wonders for Illawarra's community spirit as the coronavirus crisis continues.
They said he was not only putting Windang, Wollongong, Shellharbour, the Illawarra and Australia on the world stage he was just a really nice bloke who deserved all the success that comes his way.
A true champion.
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