By Pam Kiriakidis
WANDONG’s Santino Brigante was crowned Australian Junior Boxing champion in his weight division at the 2023 Australian School Championships earlier this month.
Santino, 15, travelled to Adelaide where he fought against Australia’s best young boxers in the 46kg division.
The first competition was straightforward for Santino, winning all three rounds in a unanimous judge decision against New South Wales opponent Kai Crane-Hayes, who was stopped three times as the referee put a count on.
In the final round, Santino bested his Queensland opponent Shem Travers in a technical knockout and reached the top of his weight class to secure the title.
Santino’s father Guerino ‘Gary’ Brigante said in the eight years he had been involved with his son’s boxing career, he had never heard of a stoppage by a 15-year-old.
Before claiming the Australian Junior Boxing Title, Santino competed in several inter-club competitions against boxers from other gyms to build confidence, and was runner-up at the Golden Gloves in Brisbane last year.
The junior champion was first introduced to the sport at age seven after his father asked what sport he wanted to take up as they drove past a boxing gymnasium.
At age nine, Santino began training at House of Stoush Boxing Academy in Wallan, where he now trains four times a week under coach Bryce Poorter.
Gary said Santino was a quick learner.
“When I brought him in for training, because we did some boxing at home, he was too advanced for the kids class, so he got put straight into adult class and never actually got to train with little kids when he started,” he said.
“It’s not only me and my son, there’s a lot of father and son teams that train just as hard and it’s just a sport you can’t play – you can play soccer, you can play tennis, but you can’t play boxing. You either do it seriously or you don’t do it at all.”
Moving forward, Santino is keen to reach Olympic and Commonwealth Games level and to be known as a ‘positive fighter’ in his professional career.
From day one, with the support of his father, Santino said boxing was meant to be his profession.
“I’ve always known because when I first joined boxing, I’ve always had the feeling that this is what I want to do, and I’m going to stick to it,” he said.
“[My dad’s] the one that got me into it. He’s the one that pushed me to do what I’ve done now.”
Santino’s next step is to secure a place to compete in England for the Junior World Title in November.