Bilal Akkawy is Australia’s heaviest pound-for-pound puncher and joined the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues for a boxing session tonight upon Brad Fittler’s request.
His record stands at 17-0 with 15 KO’s and is ranked 12th in the World Boxing Association Super Middleweight division, making him one of the most promising young fighters in Australia. Most importantly, however, Akkawy has the inner strength and character within that Fittler wants to replicate throughout his State of Origin squad.
Akkawy certainly didn’t pull his punches when training with the NSW squad, and there was an immediate mutual respect shown between him and the players.
“They’re a great bunch of blokes and it’s a very positive environment and a lot of enthusiasm, it’s good,” Akkawy says.
“I always go in there to go hard, the way I look at it is we both train hard, we’re both fit, but it comes down to who has got the stronger will, who is not going to give up, so I just go for it.
“I like to dig them into the body, slow them down a bit.”
Akkawy played Rugby League growing up as a kid, but was always destined to be a boxer as he grew up in that environment.
His father and his uncle mentor him, and upon completing his Higher School Certificate, dedicated himself to the sport as soon as he turned 18 years old.
That kind of dedication is exactly what the NSW staff are hoping can inspire the playing group when they run out for the series-deciding match this Sunday.
“Every man and his dog, and even every superstar in Australia would want to be in this camp, but we wanted Bilal in this camp,” NSW trainer Hayden Knowles says.
“First of all the boys respect what he does for a job, he fights with hunger, he fights with tenacity, the way Bilal fights is what we want from our players.
“Not that we want our players to be fighters, but we want our players to have the character of Bilal, just that will and that attack and that hunger that’s what we’re about.
“The boys had a mutual respect so as soon as he walked into the room today.”
Fittler picked the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues team on character, and there is no better sport to test someone’s character than boxing.
Akkawy is a hungry fighter rising up the ranks, and Fittler also wants a team hungry for success.
“I’m pretty sure the whole of Australia and one day the world will know who he is,” Knowles says. “Having him with us today inspired the boys, it also lets them feel how a professional hits.
“A couple of them really felt the punch to the body; possibly James Maloney got hit the hardest.”