BLACKALLS Park speedway rider Mitchell Cluff got into boxing to improve his fitness on the bike.
Now the 17-year-old is trying to juggle ambitions in both sports as a state champion.
Cluff took out the under-16 250cc NSW speedway title at the end of last year and added the state 60kg interim junior boxing championship to his achievements last month with a points win against Toronto’s Jacob Ford at Kahibah Sports Club.
“I felt like I won the first two rounds convincingly, but I started to tire out and I felt like I lost the third round,” Cluff said. “It was a close fourth round but I felt like I’d done enough to get the win.
“I’ve been into boxing for four or five years now, just training as a fitness thing. I never really looked too far into it with sparring or combinations, but at the start of this year I started training really hard and I had my first fight in February.”
Cluff has won three of his four bouts and he has another lined up for December 16 at Wangi RSL.
The sheetmetal apprentice, though, is not turning his back on racing.
He represented Australia last year at the under-16 world speedway titles in Poland after finishing second at nationals and has high hopes for another call-up.
The Australian speedway championship kicks off on January 6 at Kurri Kurri and Cluff is eyeing selection in the national under-21 side for the 2018 world titles.
“I still want to do boxing but I’m going to start playing around now with racing,” he said. “I got a good message off the Australian team manager that if I keep up good results, I might get chosen in that team, so I’ve got to focus on racing now.
“I haven’t got any racing until the next fight, so I took it, but next year, I want to still box, but I’ve got to see what racing comes up first.”
Cluff stepped up to the 500cc category this year and was “just starting to mix it with the bigger boys”.