Mandurah's Alex Winwood has punched his ticket for an Olympic berth

ANTICIPATION: Mandurah legend Alex Winwood celebrates a win with coach Brian Sartori. Photo: Supplied.
ANTICIPATION: Mandurah legend Alex Winwood celebrates a win with coach Brian Sartori. Photo: Supplied.

Early last year Alex Winwood was set to leave for Wuhan, of all places.

The Olympic boxing qualifiers were to be held in the Chinese city but just days out, news of coronavirus gripped the world and the event was moved to the Asian nation of Jordan instead.

There, Winwood punched his ticket to the Olympics at the very last minute as he powered to victory against an Iranian opponent in the final round of a box-off.

Since that monumental fight, the Mandurah boxer has been preparing for Tokyo and after a year of uneventful training, he finally left WA to tackle more challenging components.

He said the postponement of the Olympic games last year was a blow to him, like it was to the rest of the elite sporting world.

QUALIFIED: Alex Winwood (right) punched his ticket to the Olympics at the last minute as he powered to victory against an Iranian opponent in the final round of a box-off. Photo: Supplied.

QUALIFIED: Alex Winwood (right) punched his ticket to the Olympics at the last minute as he powered to victory against an Iranian opponent in the final round of a box-off. Photo: Supplied.

But he said after a difficult year, a 10-week training camp in Queensland would make up for that.

"I'm excited, I can't wait to get it going, it's been a bit of a wait."

Coach Brian Sartori, from Eureka Boxing Club, said in the past year Winwood battled aching wisdom teeth and cancelled surgeries.

"He's been working hard but hasn't actually had a fight since the qualifiers. With COVID there have been been no opportunities to fight and no suitable opponent in WA," Sartori said.

Winwood is one of just five Australian boxers to qualify for the Olympics and he will be competing in the flyweight category in the under 52kg division.

For Winwood to win gold he would need to win five of eight fights.

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Winwood puts his success thus far down to seven years of hard work - and plenty of confidence.

"You need to be confident," Winwood said.

"You're putting your health on the line every time you go through those ropes, you don't know if that one punch will do that long-term damage. If you don't have the confidence, it's not the sport for you."

He's happy to take that risk, he says.

"I think it's a calculated risk, I train hard and am very well protected through my training."

When he's not boxing, Winwood works as an apprentice electrician with shipbuilding company BAE.