Cory Paterson walks away from big money in rugby league to become a professional heavyweight boxer
NICK WALSHAW THE DAILY TELEGRAPH AUGUST 30, 2014 12:00AM SHARE
Daley Mail: Canberra Raiders v Wests Tigers
Cory Paterson, with son Jax is giving up rugby league to start boxing professionally.
Daley Mail: Canberra Raiders v Wests Tig…Cory Paterson, with son Jax is giving up…
CORY Paterson is quitting rugby league. Walking away from not only Wests Tigers, but another five years of footy which, played in either the NRL or English Super League, could have earned him up to $1 million.
“Everybody wants to find where they belong,’’ Paterson shrugs. “So do I.”
It is why this is only partly a yarn about boxing. About Paterson, still only 27, making the shock decision to leave rugby league for life as a heavyweight fighter.
It is a new beginning — but an old fight.
Paterson has knocked back $300,000 to play in the English Super League.
A truth confirmed when Paterson, after talking for some 30 minutes about the sweet science — about five-year plans, friend Anthony Mundine and his determination “to do this thing right” — finally lays himself bare.
“Boxing,’’ Paterson says, “gives me a confidence I’ve never found anywhere else.
“There, you got it out of me. A few years ago, when I was really struggling with depression, really low, I’d go to the gym and train to feel better. Still do.
“I’ve never been a real confident person, never backed myself. Boxing changes that.”
Paterson has been on a journey to find himself, in and out of rugby league.
Which is why, after the Wests Tigers play that final game against Cronulla next Saturday, Paterson is finished. And beginning.
Swapping an NRL career boasting more than 100 games — and three appearances with the Indigenous All Stars — for a humble Caringbah gym, noted trainer Dave Birchell and who knows how many undercard appearances.
“I’m not a footballer who is going to box,’’ he stresses. “I’m a boxer now, that’s it.
“And I know I’m sacrificing a good life, up to seven year’s footy wages, for the complete unknown. But I need this.”
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And maybe you feel like you’ve heard this before. Remembering how Paterson, among the first NRL stars to talk openly about depression, has previously made headlines for converting to Islam, disappearing to England, explaining his Aboriginality, being sledged by Billy Slater, even trialling as an NFL punter with the Oakland Raiders.
A fella, we suggest, whose entire life has been spent trying to find himself.
“Yeah,” he says without pause, “you’ve got me. There was a time when rugby league, it was the thing that really made me happy. But in the past three years, that feeling disappeared. And I’ve tried to find it. Scraped the bottom of the barrel looking. But it’s not there.
“And I’ll put my hand up right now and say, the expectations put on me early on, I’ve never got there. But as an athlete who is still only 27, I can get there in boxing.”
Paterson says he is taking up boxing to ‘improve as a person’.
Elsewhere, Paterson has signed on to work as an NRL Ambassador, specialising in the field of mental health, while also continuing to raise son Jax, now 4, with his beautiful wife Sarah.
“And I’m only doing this because I have their blessing,’’ Paterson continues. “Sarah knows this is not only about me being at ease, but improving as a person.
“I read somewhere the other day where the average bloke changes jobs five or six times before finding his calling. I’m hoping to get there in two.”
From dt. Too hard to link it. Wish you the best. Great courage fighting depression and keep getting up.
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