By Michael Rennie
Amateur boxer Denis Cherry, 72, took up the sport at an unusually late time in his life. (ABC News: Mark Hides)
At 72, Brisbane man Denis Cherry is Australia’s oldest amateur boxer, but he admits the rigorous sport is starting to take a toll on his body.
“Very sore, arthritis and that. I dread the day I have to give it up, one day it’ll come — in another 20 years or so,” he said.
Cherry is quick to put that into perspective, having overcome prostate cancer 12 years ago — the thing that prompted him to don the gloves.
The grandfather of four trains six days a week, boxing, swimming and lifting weights in preparation for a bout next month.
He has had three amateur fights, with a record of one win and two losses, but said winning was not the thing that motivated him.
“It’s the challenge because you are going out in deep water, I’d never been in places like that before,” he said.
“Here’s somebody trying to hurt you, to a degree, and I’m trying to hurt them and that’s never happened to me before.
“I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and it scared the living hell out of me.
“I beat that and started coming here to Phil Holiday’s gym, just started working out and sparring then one thing led to another.”
While fitter than many men decades his junior, Cherry does find his age catching him up.
“I’ve had both my knees replaced — but that had nothing to do with my boxing — both my wrists I’ve got to wrap them up, my shoulders get sore, it’s not bad for somebody with unlimited ability like I’ve got,” he said.
On April 7, he will fight Graham Prowse on the under card when junior middleweight Dennis ‘Hurricane’ Hogan takes on Jimmy Kilrain Kelly for the WBO intercontinental title at the Brisbane Convention Centre.
“Graham Prowse is a highly respected fighter in the masters, he’s had over 200 fights, Graham. Very, very good.
“He’s the current over 60, 75 kilogram world champion — he won that about 14 months ago.”
Cherry is using the event to raise money for seven-year-old Sean Senbel-Lynch who has cerebral palsy.
Sean’s father Liam Lynch said the family needed to raise $70,000 by the end of the year for an operation in the United States that will help him walk on his own for the first time.
“There is a specialist procedure that’s only done over in the US which is minimal invasion,” Mr Lynch said.
Mr Cherry and Dennis Hogan will help raise money for Sean Senbel-Lynch. (ABC News: Mark Hides)
“We have seen children here in Australia who have had this procedure done and from a kid who can’t walk like Sean, they become kids who can run around, jump, climb and do things that any seven-year-old little boy can do.”
Cherry said he was honoured to be able to help.
“I receive $10 for every ticket I sell at the event, I’ve got 50 tickets coming. I reckon I can sell 100,” he said.
“Also Jeff Horn’s given me a set of gloves to sign I’m going to auction them. I’ve gone to a couple of local business people in the Redlands.”
The Lynch family has a GoFundMe page for anybody who wants to help out.