In the decade and a half that he’s been wearing the boxing gloves, Terry Nickolas has made quite the name for himself in Australian boxing.
The now 28-year-old from Adelaide made his way to the 2018 Commonwealth Game representing Australia and while the journey to the big ring is definitely credit to his determination and perseverance, a little star power behind him also helped give him an extra nudge.
“Friends come and go, but throughout my boxing career one of the best friends I’ve had is George Kambosos Jr. He’s a top guy, we met at the start of my career in the amateurs. From the moment we met we’ve kept in touch and helped each other out…He’s pretty much my manager now along with his dad Jim. It’s just crazy to think about the friendship we made back in the amateurs. He turned professional a lot quick than me but he turned around and said ‘When you become professional, know we’ve got you and you can come with us’. That there shows what kind of person he is,” Nickolas told Neos Kosmos.
Before Nickolas secured his place in the national team, he had fallen just short of qualifying for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and 2016 Rio Olympics. Time and time again he’s showed the world how to stay resilient and get back up, but today he faces one of life’s roughest battles outside of the ring.
“My older brother has been fighting cancer for the last year. That there has been pretty tough. Being away in Sydney, because I was training there, I was only coming back to Adelaide when I could. Seeing how it has affected our family and understanding it all has been pretty challenging. We say he’s going to be alright and we’re going to get through it but it’s certainly a big hurdle in the family’s life right now,” he said.
“Boxing and training has helped me and given me strength to get through it. Obviously my brother is the one dealing with it head on, but the whole family is dealing with it together. I think that’s been the toughest thing I’ve had to face throughout my career, but boxing and training gives me that positive and strong mindset that I hope I can pass on to my brother.”
Nickolas talks keeping out of trouble, visualising his game and never putting down the gloves.
What drew you to boxing?
I was 16 years old. I remember exactly what happened. Some family friends of ours grew up boxing throughout their life, so it always interested me and the boxing, but I never really got around to it because I was always playing soccer from around six years old. It wasn’t until I was about 16, in school, I wasn’t getting in too much trouble, but just running amok a little bit, just getting a little bit naughty.
I got suspended from school and I remember getting in the car with my dad and he said ‘I’m going to take you down to the to the boxing gym’. Just out of the blue like that, he must have spoken to a family friend of ours. In my head I was pretty excited and pretty keen to get down there. My dad obviously took me down there to see if I could learn some discipline. Since that day, I never stop going. I just fell in love with the sport.
It’s game day, what do you do to get in the zone before the match?
It depends whether I’m in the amateurs or professionals. I’ve only had the two professional fights. With amateurs you weigh in on the morning of the flight which makes a big difference because in the professionals you weight in the night before.
As an amateur I had I’ve had over 115 fights so with the weigh in in the morning I always get up nice and early. I weigh myself and check that I’m on time. Then I go and weight in officially, and then I like to just spend a few hours alone. I’ll maybe go for a walk or grab something to eat, just enjoy that alone time.
I always love to go to the beach and visualise what’s going to happen and walk my way through and talk my way through the fight. Then I like to relax, I like to spend time with my team and stay with my coach if we’re travelling and hang out with the other fighters and have a laugh just keeping in a good, positive state, because the sport is 90 per cent mental.
Top three training songs?
I love Hip-Hop and movie soundtrack songs, anything with a good beat that gets you in the mood. This is a bit cliché but I love the Rocky soundtrack. I love the old school stuff, I’ve got the Rocky playlist on my phone and put that through the speakers when I train and sometimes I put on the 70s music. I like it mix it up.
What do you find most challenging about boxing?
It’s a team sport in regards to when you’re training with your team, but it is individual when you’re out there. I love challenging myself individually, relying on no one else. If you don’t put that work in yourself, the bottom is no one else is going to be able to help you.
There’s the challenge there. You never want to go into it saying ‘have I done enough?’. You always want to make sure you’ve ticked every box, you’ve done all the work you need to do, getting up early, going for your runs. A lot of our training requires you to push yourself. You’ve got to challenge yourself mentally, and challenge yourself every single day to get up and do all the physical work too. I love that.
What has been a highlight in your sporting career thus far?
One of my major goals as an amateur fighter was to represent my country in a major event, like the Commonwealth Games or the Olympics and in 2018 I had the opportunity to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games. It was one of the biggest highlights in my life, representing your country, I don’t think there’s a better feeling than that. Having the whole world watching felt unreal. It put into perspective all those years I worked and missed out and came close. I just never gave up and I finally got that gold medal at the Australian Championship to qualify.
How has boxing impacted your life?
It’s given me direction and taught me a lot of things. It’s funny, in the sport you learn so much about the game but you also learn so much about what life’s about; getting knocked down and getting back up and not giving up, that resilience.
Sure, I missed out on a major competition and I can say ‘alright, I’m going to give up’ but you don’t. You go back to the gym and work harder. It taught me to never to give up in life and to be a good person. It’s given me guidance and something to live for.
What is something you learned about yourself throughout your boxing career?
No matter what, working hard and being a good person always pays off. And to never give up. Life is always going to throw us battles and you have to keep pushing forward and stay mentally strong.
What do you hope to achieve in the next year?
My pro career has been a bit slow due to COVID, so I just can’t wait to get back into the ring again and build my name and be one of the best in the country and professional ranks. I just want to just stay active and help people out in the gym and in life.
What’s something someone might be surprised to learn about you?
It’s probably the hard work that I’ve put in to put myself in the position that I am now in the boxing world and the losses I’ve overcome either with my team or by myself.
Favourite way to unwind after a match?
I like to get together with my team and my family and go out for a nice big dinner and just enjoy the time with everyone. That’s my way of enjoying that relaxation and celebrating together.
What are you most looking forward to in 2022?
Just focusing on my career, having a turn back in the ring, building my name up and fighting some of Australia’s best. And becoming the best professional boxer I can be.
What is something you want to be remembered by?
Just being 100 percent dedicated to the sport, being a good person in the community and helping others. I want to be able to help others achieve their goals in the boxing gym and giving back to the sport that gave a lot to me. I just want to look back and know that I gave it my all.