In Travel Group’s very own James Lofts recently had a chat with none other than Toprank boxing signed Paul ‘Showtime’ Fleming to discuss childhood, representing Australia at the 2008 Beijing Olympics & cultural awareness.
So first things first, Where are you and the mob from?
I’ve got 3 mobs within my family, first one is from around Babinda, QLD– Wadjanmajja , Cherbourg, QLD – Wakka-Wakka & Jagera from the Brisbane, QLD region. But I grew up in Tully in Far north QLD but now I am residing in Syd, NSW and have been for the last few years now.
Tell us a little about growing up in Tully, QLD. What was it like and what did you enjoy about it the most?
I always wanted to grow up in the big city as a young fella and always had an interest in being able to go to the shops, movies & hanging out but as I got older and I moved away from home I realised just how good it was growing up and living in the country. I was constantly going hunting, fishing, camping, going exploring etc.. You can’t do that in the city and there’s not too much freedom as opposed to living in the country.
We understand that you currently that do a bit of dancing & cultural activities in Sydney with a dance group. Tell us a little about that & why you think it’s important for the mob to be connected to it?
Yeah, I dance with the Wirradjarri dance group here in Sydney. It’s something I got into and have been doing it the last 3 or 4 years now. I wasn’t lucky enough to grow up with too much culture back home, so you could say I found it, or it found me. I’m doing dance, attend men’s groups and everything else but It’s much deeper than just doing a dance. We’re trying to bring the old ways back to some degree but its all about the values you have and the values you teach to your kids and extended family. It’s something I’m really enjoying and something that has opened my eyes and changed me for the better.
A lot of things happening around the world and in Australia today with drugs, suicides, violence etc. A lot of these things that directly affect our people, it’s good to know who you are and have a strong base to ground yourself. It’s like we’re caught in between 2 worlds and we don’t really have an identity. People these days are more worried about being famous and knowing people and think this is important to them but over 60,000 years ago we were the custodians and shared everything. We were humble, loving and caring.
How did boxing come about seeing as you grew up in Tully, QLD where footy (Rugby League) is a religion and everyone plays it?
I played rugby league from when I was 6 years old onwards and I was a decent little player making rep teams here and there. I could never crack the next level of rep footy and I was sick of other people being the driver of the ship so to speak so I wanted to take my destiny into my own hands and be my own leader. Boxing is a solo sport where you’re in control of your own destiny and the reason why I leaned towards it. Plus growing up I had a fascination with it as a kid I was always into Martial Arts movies like Karate kid, Bruce Lee movies plus video games like street fighter, double dragon and the rest of it. Plus, I owned a heavy bag and I had my own gloves, so I always was drawn into it from an early age. Dad always taught me as well but when I got to 12yrs old I thought stuff it I’m going to focus on this and the rest is history.
What was it like to represent Australia at the 2008 Olympics at Beijing?
Look I’ve been to about 14 different countries and been all over Australia except for Tasmania but in saying that I’m not the traveling kind of guy. I like my own couch and chilling at home and I don’t like living out of bags. I love to chill and be comfortable. But China, was very different and weird to some extent. They don’t really take to westerners too well but in saying that, the road to get to China for the 2008 Olympics was much sweeter for myself and much more of an achievement as I trained so hard and put in a lot of effort and made a lot of sacrifices to put myself in that position. I got to see some tourist destinations like the great wall, the palaces etc. But overall was a good experience.
Tell us a little about training under Billy Hussein who is highly regarded in the Australian Boxing circles and signing with Toprank boxing which is one of the major boxing stables in the U.S.A currently home to Terrence ‘Bud’ Crawford & Vasyl Lomachenko to name a couple.
I’m still currently with Toprank but have had a bit of time off the last couple of years but also still with Billy ‘H’ as well. He’s trained the likes of Billy ‘the kid’ Dib & Garth Wood, Daniel Green just to name a few but obviously has the experience training world class fighters which will help me as well. It’s been a great ride and experience so far but plenty more to come. I also re-signed with Toprank for another 4 years so hopefully after this upcoming fight in December I’ll kick on and look for that world title shot next year sometime.
Seeing as we’re an Indigenous owned corporate travel agency, what’s your favourite destination
internationally & domestically?
Croatia is my favourite international destination above all by far. All the mountains, natural landscapes, great weather and the people are friendly which helps. Domestically it’d have to be Cairns, QLD for sure. It’s a city but not a massive city but you can take a short drive outside of it and its rural again. It has the worlds best swimming holes and there’s nothing better then hitting the swimming holes. Something I miss about being away from North Queensland.
Lastly, any inspiring words for the mob whether they’re young or old, business or sports sense, that they can take away from this?
Whatever life throws at you, you’ve just got to stay positive and keep pushing for whatever it is that you want. Whether it’s sport, business, a career in art or whatever it may be, you’re going to have setbacks. No one who’s made it to the top has had a clean run to achieving what they wanted. It’s the mistakes that you make you always learn from which will help you grow as a person. Don’t be afraid to take chances and make mistakes as you may lose out for the minute, you’ll end up learning to make yourself better and that’s what our culture is about too. I’ll be able to pass it down to the younger brothers and sisters and help them to grow and eventually achieve their goals.