Grafton's resilient fighters ready for Valley rumble
BOXING: With sweat spilling onto the canvas and exhausted arms screaming for mercy, Grafton Amateur Boxing Club trainer Dean Cribb tells the man standing opposite to dig deep for one more round.
Without a moment's hesitation Grafton fighter Sam McKechnie tightens his gloves and starts swinging back at the man half his size.
This is a simple Wednesday night training spar, but Cribb wants him to treat it like any other fight. Punch, dodge, move and punch again. The strike of leather on flesh, a drumming rhythm that the club pulsates to.
The two men are not alone in the oversized shed at the Grafton Showground, but in that ring, nothing else matters, it is a rule Cribb has taught all his fighters.
There is a growing reputation of the fighters coming out of the club: they refuse to quit.
"My blokes don't just come to fight, they are coming to win, they are coming to do their work,” Cribb said.
From the three Cotten brothers, Ryan, Zac and Brenden, to the undefeated upstart Jesse Boogaard, everyone under Cribb's care has an unmistakable tenacity.
It is a tenacity the trainer has himself, not more obvious than in his unflagging desire to host the best live fight night Grafton has ever seen.
He will be searching for that mantle once again this weekend when the club steps between the ropes at the Clarence River Jockey Club for the Rumble in the Valley.
Cribb has worked on the card since before the club's last fight night last month, and will be ready to host around 12 pre-matched fights on the night.
Included in those 12 bouts will be three Clarence Valley championship fights as his own fighters go to battle for gold.
"We had a couple of fighters pull out at the last minute again, which is a shame, but we are determined to do the best with what we have got.”
Club fighter Ryan Cotten will be out to avenge a split decision loss at the last fight night at Grafton, and Cribb believes he has put in the work to do it.
"He lost that fight because of a few defensive lapses, if he hadn't have got tagged he would have held up that title,” Cribb said. "But he knows that and he has worked hard on that. His brother Zac has also put in heaps of work.”
All three Cotten brothers will be in action along with McKechnie and Boogaard.