Boxing

Lepani Wilson’s Second Trip To A World Title Fight

Over the years, Wilson has gone on to train other top boxers like Peter Kariuki, Tevita Vakalalabure, Fatu Tuimanono, Tuilau, Waisele Ratu and so on.
03 Jul 2019 18:11
Lepani Wilson’s Second Trip To A World Title Fight
From left: Former IBO world super middleweight champion Renold Quinlan and trainer Lepani Wilson at Campbelltown in Sydney, Australia on June 23, 2019. Photo: Leone Cabenatabua

He has been called names but this has not deterred veteran boxing trainer Lepani Wilson.

From the humble beginning in Lami, then moving base to Martintar in Nadi, where he stayed for a few years before flying across to Campbelltown, a suburb in Sydney, Australia, Wilson is still doing what he loves best, that is training boxers.

“It’s been a long journey,” the Kadavu native told SUNsports.

“I still recall those early days with a punching hanging under a mango tree in Lami. It was there we groomed Frank Atu who rose from super middleweight to light heavyweight and later became the heavyweight champion of Fiji.”

He said Atu was a powerful hitter and cleaned out the super middleweight division when he stopped boxers like Mosese Sorovi, Nat Ledua and Paula Tuilau.

Over the years, Wilson has gone on to train other top boxers like Peter Kariuki, Tevita Vakalalabure, Fatu Tuimanono, Tuilau, Waisele Ratu and so on.

Through his involvement in the sport, Wilson made huge progress in the boxing world where he established networks with renowned bodies like the International Boxing Organisation (IBO), World Boxing Organisation (WBO) and World Boxing Association (WBA).

Today, he’s probably the first Fijian trainer to train and guide a boxer to win a world title. When told of this Wilson remains modest of his achievement.

Moving into Campbelltown, Wilson started training his nephew Renold Vatubua Quinlan, when he was still a teenager.

“Actually, I wanted Ren to represent Fiji at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China but things did not work out for us so I decided for him to turn pro.”

Their big break came in October 14, 2016 when Quinlan stopped Daniel Geale in the second round to claim the International Boxing Organisation (IBO) world super middleweight title.

Wilson said with the world title at hand, there were outside influences that saw them went their different ways.

As a result Quinlan lost the world title to Chris Eubank Jnr in London and greatly affected the momentum of his progress.

This prompted them to get back together, reconciled and are now on a comeback trail.

“One thing we’ve to understand that me and Ren are family. We are strong when united and what had happened is all water under the bridge now as we focus on our goals,” Wilson added.

For them coming together, has somewhat opened up a door for Quinlan to try his luck again on the world title.

“The IBO title is vacant since Eubank had lost it to George Groves who has now relinquished the title.

“Now the IBO has contacted us giving Ren another chance but we’ve told them to wait as he needs two fights to prove himself.”

Wilson said this is a ‘now or never’ situation for them.

“Ren is now 30 so he needs to win his next fight against Cesar Tapia for the vacant Australian super middleweight title on August 14.

“If Ren wins then our next target is an IBO rated number 6 or 7 boxer before we’ll go for the world title. A loss in one of these two fights mean the end of our run.”

Wilson highlighted that what makes their bond stronger is through their Fijian heritage.

Quinlan’s mum is from Viwa in Tailevu and spent his early childhood days in Nepani outside Suva before moving to Australia.

“Not only that Ren is married to Lilly who hails from Nasukamai in Ra,” Wilson added.

For now Wilson said it’s all down to blood, sweat and tears as they gear towards the August 14 clash.

“It’s being professional where we need to meet certain requirements by monitoring every situation especially ensuring that your boxer makes the weight for the title fight to happen.”

Edited by Grace Narayan

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj

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