Australian boxer Skye Nicolson’s heartbreaking defeat in Tokyo was the last straw for a furious Jeff Fenech, who has unloaded in a scathing take-down of the “wankers” running boxing in Australia.
The former three-division world champion watched on in tears as Nicolson missed out on a medal on Wednesday night inside the Kokugikan Arena. Just like Fenech, whose Olympic dream went up in flames in an infamous 1984 robbery, Nicolson’s Games campaign came to an end just one win away from a medal.
“I came here with one goal and that was a gold medal and I truly believed that I was going to win it,” Nicolson said after a excruciating split decision defeat.
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“So, to go out now is really, really hard for me.’’
Nicolson made it to the quarter-finals; further than any Australian in Tokyo, with Harry Garside still alive in the lightweight division. Paulo Aokuso, the nation’s light heavyweight hope, also fell to a tough split decision defeat on Wednesday.
“I just think they’ve all got so much skill and ability,” Fenech told News Corp.
“Guys are losing by a point or two, split decisions. If you have somebody who knows how to push you and motivate you, these split decision [losses] turn into wins.”
While Fenech admitted he doesn’t know much about Australian boxing head coach Kevin Smith, he made clear he was less-than-impressed with the whole system; a system that has never sought out his help.
“I’d do it for nothing,” Fenech said. “I’d help those kids for nothing.”
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“Let me sit in Skye Nicolson’s corner,” he added. “Let’s have the fight again, she’ll win by f…ing 20 points.”
Smith said Fenech was “entitled to his opinion” about his coaching, but suggested the Aussie boxing great didn’t have the full picture.
“Without ever coaching Skye Nicolson and knowing what she’s capable of, it’s difficult for him as a coach to say what he could and couldn’t do,” Smith told News Corp.
“It is necessary to know an athlete’s strengths and weaknesses when considering what advice to give them between rounds in a contest,” Smith added.
“It’s easy to be critical with hindsight.”
Both Nicolson and Aokuso fell on the scorecards in fights many thought they won.
Fenech, who had his 1984 quarter-final win overturned in controversial fashion, believes it’s just another example of Australia being belittled on the international stage.
“We’re not respected enough,” Fenech said. “Here are these kids going over there, and because they’re from Australia, they’re already a ‘wildcard’. The other power nations are well out in front of us.”
Fenech added: “I still don’t believe us Aussies get a fair crack. I don’t believe we’ve got the right mix of people. So, we’ll never, ever do well in boxing. We’ll never do well.”
Overcome by a decades-long frustration with amateur boxing in Australia, Fenech couldn’t help but see parallels in his Olympics despair and what Nicolson endured.
“I went there for the same reason Skye Nicolson went there,” he said. “I went there to win a medal.”
Australia has still never won gold in boxing at the Olympics. Until something changes, Fenech believes the wait will go on.
“F… the bureaucracy in Australian amateur boxing,” Fenech added.
“It’s s…. And that’s why we’re never going to win a gold medal.”