Alex Leapai: Mum and dad bring out the beast in me
BRISBANE boxer Alex Leapai is prepared to break a promise he made to himself on the darkest day of his life when he takes on towering Ukrainian boxing icon Wladimir Klitschko in Germany next week.
Leapai hopes the tears of pain in despair he saw on his parent's faces in a Brisbane courtroom in 2006 are replaced by tears of joy and emotion after he wins the world heavyweight title from Klitschko in Oberhausen on April 27 (AEST).
Those images have haunted him ever since.
The father of three (he has six children now) hit rock bottom in 2006.
With his life spiralling out of control he turned to drugs, alcohol and violence which not only ruined his dreams of one day playing rugby league for the Broncos but also broke his parents' hearts.
His wife, Theresa, was expecting their fourth child at the time when he was sentenced to six months in a maximum security prison for brutally bashing two nightclub bouncers.
When Alex saw his father, Laataui, desperately trying to console and comfort his mother who was bawling and screaming with tears running down their faces, he felt a bigger blow to the stomach than anything Klitschko can hit him with in Germany next week.
"I still remember sitting in that court room," the softly spoken Leapai told APN before leaving for Germany with his trainer Noel Thornberry and family members today.
It was the love, faith and forgiveness of his parents and wife Theresa when all else looked lost, that Leapai believes pulled him through the lowest point of his life and ultimately changed him forever.
"Mum and dad bought us out to Australia (he was 12) for a good life and good education, and here I was going to prison," he said, the pain and disappointment still clearly visible in his eyes and in his voice almost eight years later.
"To look across and see my parents, the way they both broke down, the way they cried, that image still haunts me and breaks my heart.
"I promised myself that I would never make them cry again."
Leapai's parents will be ringside in Germany and if he sees them crying at the end of the fight, he will know they are tears of joy, not pain.
"There's something about mum and dad that brings the beast out in me," he said.
"I'll be looking over at them and remembering that day in court and I'll be taking it all out on Klitschko."
Leapai believes his destiny is to be world champion.
He revealed even before taking up boxing he had dreamt he would one day be a world champion.
"About 12 years ago I woke up and told Theresa I had just had the weirdest dream that I won the heavyweight championship of the world at 35," he said.
"She laughed at me and told me to go back to bed.
"It felt so real and now I am actually doing it."
Asked if he remembered how he won the fight he said with a grin "by a knockout" like I will against Klitschko.
Klitschko has already described his underdog opponent from Down Under as a real life "Rocky".
A former courier van driver, Leapai and his family of four boys and two girls, live in a modest home in the Brisbane suburb of Slacks Creek.
He has a makeshift gym in a tin shed in the backyard.
Klitschko lives a Hollywood existence dating an actress and has made more than $35 million in the ring.
Thornberry knows it will take a lot of heart and courage to take Klitschko down which is why he is confident Leapai will cause an upset.
When Leapai beat Denis Boystov in Germany to earn his shot at a potential $6 million pay day against Klitschko he had to overcome adversity after tearing his calf in the seventh round.
"Noel, my leg's gone," he told his trainer after round nine.
'Who gives a shit?," came the reply, "use the other one, we'll fix it tomorrow we have to get this done".
Leapai smiled at Thornberry and said: 'no worries mate. I just wanted to tell you. Let's get on with it."