When Alan “The Nugget” Patterson steps into the ring on 27 March in search of his first professional win, he will be partaking in a challenge that most fighters in his situation find themselves in. That is the test against one’s self.
“What’s driving me is to be better than myself. In boxing, you need to be better than yourself. I want to keep going.
“Age is just a number. I just want to keep going until the body can’t go anymore, which feels like a long way until that point for me right now”, Patterson told The Inner Sanctum.
This is only one driving factor for the 32-year-old, though. The will to keep fighting is part of a greater effort to make his mark in the sport.
Just like those that have come and gone before him, Patterson now aims to inspire a future generation in the process.
“I want to be an example for the young Indigenous youths, try and set a benchmark where my professional record is up there.”
Patterson hails from the Indigenous community of Yarrabah, 53 kilometers south of Cairns. It is a town known for participation in sports, namely Rugby League and Boxing, the latter of which caught the eye of impressionable youth.
“I grew up playing both sports – boxing and footy – from 10 years old and I was always back and forth between them both. It was hard to get my head around which sport that I really loved because I like them both.”
With his eyes firmly fixed on the squared circle, Patterson has made it his goal to write himself into the history books as a part of Australia’s proud lineage of Indigenous fighters.
From the household names of the 1960s and 70s like Lionel Rose and Tony Mundine, through to current stars like Paul Fleming and Dana Coolwell, Aboriginal fighters have made an incredible contribution to the sport both globally and nationally.
To this end, he is proud to be able to stand alongside those icons that he looked up to while cutting his teeth.
“Lionel Rose was my idol and the likes of Wally Carr and my older cousin Fred Mundraby – he had a few National and International fights and is the former Australian Bantamweight champion.
“They were my idols and it’s good to be fighting in the professional ranks like once upon a time when they did.”
He admits, however that joining the professional ranks as a fighter nearly did not eventuate.
In fact, it was the advice of one of his heroes that inspired him to pursue fighting.
“It was around about 16 years old when I started to figure out that in football, the boys are a lot bigger than I am and it’s a lot easier to get injured.
“Fred Mundraby and his brother Isaac Mundraby said ‘just stick with boxing, you’re good at it. Stay here with us and focus on this and you’ll be surprised where you’ll end up.’”
Then of course, the fate associated with the responsibilities of life took priority over a career in sport.
“Until I was about 19 I was focused on boxing and I wanted to go into the professional ranks – I was aiming for about 21, 22.
“But when I was 19 my partner got pregnant and I ended up pursuing a career with the Australian Defence Force. I was in the Royal Australian Navy for about 11 years and I came back when I had enough of the travelling.
“I was always keeping up with my boxing training, hitting bags, and keeping fit, but unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to fight while I was in the navy. They don’t like their ADF members fighting.
“So I was like ‘okay’ and I just kept fit. I sparred every now and then when I was around the boxing gym when I could get the chance.
“I was planning, me and my coach Shane were planning to go to the professional ranks last year, just before COVID hit and the plan went out the door.
“Then December last year I got the call from my trainer Shane and he asked me if I wanted to make my pro debut and I said ‘let’s do it, finally. Let’s get it out of the way.’ So here I am after my pro debut.”
In his pro debut in February, Patterson took on Palm Island’s Patrick Clarke in an all Indigenous bout on the undercard of the ‘Rugby League Rivals’ event.
Though only a four-round affair, the fight was one of the best of 2021 to date and was a showcase of the aforementioned history. Both men marched forward throwing incredibly quick combinations, each not giving an inch.
In an ironic twist of fate given his love for the code, he was surrounded by some of the biggest names from Rugby League, including Todd Carney, Justin Hodges, Sandor Earl, Ben Hannant, and Josh Papalii.
It is not unreasonable then, that butterflies emerged in Patterson’s stomach.
“Leading up to the fight didn’t bother me, but on the night, being in the same dressing room with all the big names from Rugby League and once I saw the ring setup all the nerves kicked in.
“I think once that bell rang, once the first punch was thrown everything just went out the door and I just got into it.
“I’m very proud that I didn’t give up on myself. I believe I can do a lot better next time around. I shook off the cobwebs with the first fight and the next fight will be a lot better.”
Despite being dropped with body shots in the later rounds, Patterson marched on until the final bell. Although Clarke took the unanimous decision, a high level of courage was displayed.
This will again be needed if he is to be successful on Saturday. As a part of Ace Boxing Groups’ “Showstoppers Day Show” portion of the Jacob Ng vs Blake Minto card, Patterson will take on fellow Queenslander Ryan Lucas.
Though he is familiar with his new foe, it is not a challenge he will be taking lightly.
“We both originated from the Cairns area. I would have met him a few years ago in sparring and stuff like that. We were, once upon a time in the same weight division fighting for the Queensland (amateur) title four years ago.
“I don’t know too much about him now days because he’s moved to Gold Coast, but he’s got a good winning streak.”
Rather, Patterson knows what lies ahead of him and the goals remain the same – Fight hard, challenge yourself, be a role model.
“You’re going to see a tough opponent who never gives up. I’m always striving and wanting to win a fight. I’m definitely not a quitter.
“I’ve trained hard since my first loss and I’m just going to keep going forward until I get the win.
“I just want to leave a bench mark for future boxers coming out of Yarrabah.”