Jesse Vosseler’s knockout attitude defeats adversity

By on August 19, 2015

IMAGINE stepping in the boxing ring with a big, fit man who wants to punch you in the face, hard and often.

It takes a ton of courage, you’ll agree.

And stellar conditioning. To survive and thrive in the square ring demands speed, strength and stamina that can only be earned through dedication in the gym.

Can you picture the punishing regime that must be conquered before the first blows are even traded? The jump rope, sparring, and heavy bag sessions that stretch well beyond the point at which your mind first screams “Stop! Quit now!”.

Sounds hard right?

Now imagine doing all that with only one leg. The training and the fighting.

That’s the achievement of Brisbane pro boxer Jesse Vosseler who, even though he steps through the ropes with an artificial leg, usually has his arm raised in triumph at the end of the fight.

The inspirational 28-year-old lost his left leg to cancer when he was 16, but he refuses to let that stop him competing in what’s arguably the most physically demanding of all sports.

“Boxing’s a sport I’m still good at,” he said.

“When I’m in the ring and doing well, I forget about my disabilities.

‘It’s just you and your opponent, one on one,” the boilermaker and personal trainer said shortly after a bout, which he won convincingly.

“It didn’t sink in until they told me they had to amputate.”

Before the cancer, it was Vosseler’s dad who suggested he give boxing a try and he fought his first bout aged 14. He’d been playing junior rugby league since he was seven, but eventually put that aside for his new love.

“I enjoyed boxing more,” he said of his decision to focus on the Sweet Science.

An enthusiastic and optimistic young Vosseler was going gangbusters with four straight wins after an initial stumble for a 4-1 record over a couple of years. A professional career beckoned. Until, that is, osteosarcoma, a rare but aggressive cancer, struck the athletic and active then 16-year-old.

“It started as bump on my ankle that grew to the size of a golf ball,” he said.

“I had two to three rounds of chemo but they didn’t affect it much so they had to amputate.

“It didn’t sink in until they told me they had to amputate.”

Vosseler, of Wavell Heights, credits his family with helping him through what was an ordeal for such an active and sporty young man.

‘It was a pretty tough blow.”

“We all stayed strong. They kept me positive.

“I had to learn how to walk and get my leg strong.”

Feeling the pinch during a strenuous workout.

Feeling the pinch during a strenuous workout.

And get strong he did. To be clear, Vosseler’s opponents are regular fighters. He never tells them he’s missing a leg and never asks if they know.

So good is he that his last bout before turning pro was for an Australian title. “It was a good, close, hard fight. It went the full six rounds. The judges scored it a draw.”

And then later in 2014 Vosseler fought three times in a night for three wins.

Boxing keeps me on the straight and narrow

Understandably, his return to the ring after the amputation was gradual. Aged 21 he walked back into a gym again, just to spar for fitness. But the coach, Ty Gilchrist, spotted his talent and urged him to get serious.

“He believed in me so I believed in myself.”

The wins came but, increasingly, so too did the late nights out with his mates. “I was not fully committed.”

He lost his way and drifted in and out of the gym for a few years.

But, in a great example of how you can always come back to exercise and sport, Vosseler recommitted a couple of years ago and his health, fitness and self-esteem have boomed.

The head trainer at Tuff Technique Boxing in Chermside, Sean Reynolds, said that Vosseler’s physical transformation had been stunning as his improved diet and regular exercise turned him into a lean fighting machine.

“I wish you could’ve seen Jesse on his first night here. You wouldn’t believe it was the same person as now,” Reynolds said.

Vosseler agreed: “Boxing keeps me on the straight and narrow.

“It gives me something to focus on.”

Despite his artificial leg, Vosseler’s workouts include jump rope, the cross-trainer, burpee circuits, rowing machine, plus pad and bag work. But because running is off the list, “It takes me just that bit longer to get fight fit”.

As for getting ‘life fit’, here are some words of wisdom from the man who refused to let adversity hold him back.

“Put in the hard work and believe in yourself,” Vosseler said.

“It’s amazing what the human body is capable of.”

About Nick Moore

Nick Moore is the editor of NorthernLife.com.au. He also edits the printed Great Wait. Nick started as a journalist in 1993 and has worked for Fairfax, News Corp and APN.

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