RODNEY Williams wasn't a bad soccer player.
He kicked around with a few clubs in Melbourne and played a handful of games with Melbourne Croatia in the old National Soccer League.
But . . .
"When I turned 21 I walked in and tore up my contract," he said.
Williams liked the soccer he'd been forced to play but had an unrequited love: he wanted to be a fighter.
"My parents never let me," he said.
When he turned 21 he let his head go and walked into a boxing gym.
"I was totally addicted," he said.
Williams wasn't bad but was no great shakes as a fighter.
He was a 63.5 kilogram junior welterweight and fought for a Victorian amateur title.
The 43-year-old former pug is giving the training caper a bit of a shake, however.
Five of his fighters from the Full Force Gym at Seven Hills have just won titles at the NSW amateur boxing association championships in Wollongong.
They are Zach Golan, 57kg junior champion; Josh Mackay, 60kg junior champion; Kohen Mazoudier, 64kg youth champion; James Conroy, 52kg senior champion and James Nicholson, 64kg intermediate champion.
Four are off to the national championships in Adelaide next February and Mazoudier has been earmarked for the Australian Institute of Sport development squad.
Nicholson is the odd one out because he hasn't had enough fights.
Williams is one of the four coaches who will accompany the NSW squad to Adelaide, which will be an advantage but "independence is important".
"You get some boxers who fight as though they've lost a limb," he said of dependence on absent trainers.
Williams coaches according to a philosophy.
"I work on the athlete first and the boxing second," he said.
"Agility and flexibility first followed by boxing skills.
"If you concentrate just on fighting, you find they don't get as far or reach their potential."
The boxing fraternity . . . it's a phrase, but it's an ideal to Williams. Despite boxing's physically combative nature, he spoke of opponents fraternising, consoling each other and being mates after bouts.
The trainer contrasted this with other sports, say tennis, where opponents were sometimes badmouthed.
Boxing's virtues being superior to the other sporting worlds would seem debatable but not to Williams.