It had been a long time between bouts but boxer Regarn Simbwa made a triumphant return to the ring earlier this month, keeping alive his dream of one day representing Australia.
Simbwa enjoyed a unanimous points victory in Canberra on May 1 as part of the Terry Campese-Ben Alexander charity fight night.
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In fact, he just enjoyed being back inside the ropes.
"It was good. It was testing because it had been a long time - one year and seven months," Simbwa said.
"I felt good. I was keen as well."
They might have been on the undercard but Simbwa and opponent Nathan Nicholas, the NSW 81kg champion in 2019, provided one of the highlights with their three-round heavyweight bout judged 'fight of the night' in the nation's capital.
Simbwa's trainer Tony Abbott said there was a bit of 'ring rust' in his return but the tenacity was there.
"He's been out of the ring a long time. But he bit down on the mouthguard and pushed through," Abbott said.
"Things weren't falling into place. When you're busy (boxing) all the time, you're obviously on your game a bit more. When you haven't been fighting, you lose that sharpness a little bit.
"His opponent was a tough boy too. Credit to him, he didn't let (Simbwa) have the fight his way. Regarn had to change his style to adapt.
"It was a good fight. It won 'fight of the night' so it obviously entertained the crowd and there were some pretty good fights on that night."
Simbwa has been training at the Barefoot Boxing gym since moving to Wagga two-and-a-half years ago.
He had represented Uganda at the 2018 Commonwealth Games but was one of a number of athletes to stay in Australia amid fears for his safety at home.
The 24-year-old has added weight to get just above 90kg. And happy to be back doing what he loves.
"Still chasing the dream," he said.
"There was no boxing, but I've been training and running as well. I didn't stop training. When the gym was shut I was training at home."
He was thrilled to leave his mark in Canberra after working on key areas.
"I got the best boxer of the night and fight of the night," Simbwa said.
"My technique is improving and I'm working on more speed and more power."
Abbott said even sparring has been difficult to organise and finding a match for Simbwa at fight nights even harder.
But they're back on the road later this month, heading to Hawkesbury PCYC for a Sunday showdown, and Abbott's hopeful they can start to build momentum again.
"Now that he's back in the ring it's good. We've got one under our belt and hopefully we're back into it," he said.
Abbott said the gym hopes to have a couple more boxers on track for a return to competition later in the year noting the total disruption to the gym and training last year.
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