Troy Waters with his wife Michelle back in 2016.
Troy Waters with his wife Michelle back in 2016.

Aussie boxing mourns passing of Troy Waters

TROY Waters, one of the toughest and most skilful fighters Australia has produced, fought bravely until the very end.

He had tackled leukaemia with the same determination with which he took on some of the best boxers in the world.

His great friend and cornerman Ray Wheatley, for many years Australia's leading boxing official said: "This is a terribly sad time. Troy was one of the nicest guys you could ever meet and one of the very best fighters ever to represent Australia.

"I only spoke to him last week in Gosford Hospital and he sounded really upbeat. That was the sort of bloke he was.''

Three-time world champ Jeff Fenech, Australia's most successful fighter, said Waters was a great fighter and a great friend.

"I knew Troy from the early '80s and he was always a class guy,'' Fenech said.

"He was a tremendous fighter who should have been a world champion but fought in a time when there were some really great boxers at his weight on the world scene.

"I first met him in the early '80s at NSW amateur tournaments when I was competing. His father had a makeshift boxing ring out in a paddock at their home on the Central Coast and the boys would train on old punching bags hanging from trees out in the open air.

"The first time I saw the Waters boys fight their dad brought them to Sydney in a caravan that he turned into their dressing room. It was freezing cold in the van but the boys still won.''

A former Commonwealth junior-middleweight champion, Waters rode the highs and lows of his life with good grace and a ready smile that belied his horrific start to life as one of three boxing brothers under the brutal control of their father and coach Ces.

Cec Waters with sons Dean, Troy and Guy.
Cec Waters with sons Dean, Troy and Guy.

Oldest brother Dean became the Australian heavyweight champion and another brother, Guy, the Commonwealth light-heavyweight champion.

Troy, born in London, was the youngest, smallest and most talented of the three brothers.

I first met him in 1983 when he was one of Australia's rising amateur stars competing in the national titles at a sailing club in Sydney.

At the time he lived with his father and brothers in a shack on a run-down horse farm at Kulnura on the NSW Central Coast hinterland, surrounded by slow horses and more than 100 stray dogs the family cared for.

Despite the brutal excesses of his eccentric father, Troy's personality never wavered. He was a gentleman throughout his career and an outstanding fighter.

The 53-year-old is survived by his wife Michelle and two children, son Nate, 17, and daughter Shontae, 13.

He had three shots at world titles and his slug fest with American Terry Norris in 1993 was regarded as one of the most exciting fights of the 1990s. Norris won in the third round after being on the canvas.

Waters also went the distance in world title fights with Italian Gianfranco Rossi and Jamaican Simon Brown.

In 2016 he provided this interview for Ray Wheatley and me.

 

Troy Waters covers up against Felix Trinidad.
Troy Waters covers up against Felix Trinidad.

Q: You have had health issues in recent years. Can you tell our readers what is the prognosis?

A: I was diagnosed with leukaemia two years ago. The last two years have been tough. I had the chemotherapy but I relapsed. We had been in remission but the cancer came back. I was given a bone marrow transplant from my brother Dean. It has been very tough. The treatment does a lot of damage to the body. Yes, it does get rid of the leukaemia as it kills the bad cells but also kills good cells. You have got to do it to save yourself but it kills the healthy cells also. It's a building process and we have a long way to go. We are currently in remission. I'm a fighter and I will keep fighting. You were there with me Ray during half of my fights. It was beautiful.

Q: You were an outstanding world class amateur boxer during the 1980s and boxed for a world amateur title.

A: I challenged for a world title in Santo Domingo in 1981. Many years ago. It was the world junior championships. I won the first fight against a guy from Finland and got beat by majority decision against a Canadian.

Q: You won your pro debut in 1984 and in 1986 in your 6th pro fight you travelled to South Korea and boxed future world champion and world rated In Chul Baek (35-1). You dropped a disputed 12 round split decision. Baek had KO'd world rated American Fred Hutchings in his previous bout.

A: In Chul Baek had won 35 fights by KO only losing on points to the American Sean Mannion. It was a tough fight for me. After the fight I was so sore. I could hardly get out of my chair. He could punch. Of all my fights, he was the one who hurt me the most. Going into my sixth pro fight - it was a big ask but my father did not mind taking challenges. I think that fight made me a better boxer. Had the fight been in Australia I think I would have won but it was in South Korea and he got a split decision.

Q: In 1987 in your eight pro fight you performed a boxing clinic to stop classy American Dwain Lockman (10-1-1). Give me your memories of that night at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in front of 12,000 fans.

A: That was a good fight. It was a fight I was not supposed to win. The promoter Bill Mordey was sick of my father asking him to bring out tough opponents for me. After the fight Bill Mordey said to us he had brought Lockman out to beat me. He wanted to shut my dad up. Once Mordey saw we beat Dwayne Lockman easily he knew we could go somewhere.

Q: In 1987 in your ninth pro fight you captured the Commonwealth 154-pound title by stopping Englishman Lloyd Hibbert in four rounds. Hibbert had taken Lloyd Honeyghan the 10-round distance prior to meeting you.

A: Going into the fight I had watched tapes of Hibbert and I knew he wasn't strong enough to beat me so I knew I had to put the pressure on him and eventually I would catch up with him, which I did. It wasn't a hard fight because even though Hibbert was a good boxer he didn't have a lot of power. I got on top of him and stopped him.

Q: Wins over Americans Jack Callahan and Ricky Stackhouse set up the opportunity to challenge IBF world champion Gianfranco Rossi in Italy in October 1989. You trained at the Kings Cross gym in London for seven days and you were impressive in sparring sessions against Kirkland Laing, who had defeated Roberto Duran. Against Rossi - I was proud to be in your corner as you boxed aggressively in all 12 rounds.

A: We trained in the Kings Cross gym in London for two weeks prior to that fight with you and Ian Batty looking after me. We sparred with all the best they had in the gym including Kirkland Laing, who had defeated the great Roberto Duran. Kirkland was all over the place but gave us some good sparring. We went over to Italy but I didn't fight the best fight against Gianfranco Rossi. I had come down with a virus but no excuses as Rossi was a tricky and awkward fighter. Very cagey.

Q: Back in Australia you defeated Ronald Doo, Craig Trotter, Chris Seng and well-credentialed American Floyd Williams (19-2-1) and then travelled to France to stop Donaldo Ortega Lora in two rounds that set up your second world title challenge against WBC champion Terry Norris in San Diego in 1993. Norris dropped you in round one. You dropped Norris in round two but suffered severe cuts over your eyes and the fight was stopped on cuts at the conclusion of the 3rd. Round two was named Ring Magazine Round of the Year.

A: When I knocked Norris down I thought I had him but like a true champion he came back and stopped me in the next round on cuts. I honestly believe had the fight gone further the fight was going to be mine. It just wasn't met to be.

Q: You were based in the USA when you stopped 1988 Olympic gold medallist Robert Wangila that set up your third world title opportunity in 1994 against Simon Brown for WBC crown. In a see saw battle judge Dae-Eun Chung scored the fight 114-114 but the two other judges voted for Brown. Did you think you had done enough to be crowned the new champ?

A: Not necessarily because obviously Simon Brown was the champion and you really have to dominate to take the title away from the champion. I don't think I did that. The fight was close. Had the fight been in another country maybe I could have got the decision. I didn't dominate so Brown deserved the win

Q: In 1995 you clashed with former WBC welter champion Jorge Vaca and punished him over ten rounds in Sydney for a clear decision. Tough Mexican Vaca had wins over Mark Breland and Lloyd Honeyghan.

A: Jorge Vaca was very tough. I knocked him down a couple of times but he just kept getting up like a typical Mexican. Doesn't matter what you hit them with they keep getting up. I took it straight up to him and backed him up and that's what we did.

 

Troy Waters took on a job as roof tiler before making a boxing comeback in 1999.
Troy Waters took on a job as roof tiler before making a boxing comeback in 1999.

Q: Then there were wins over Canadian Alan Bonnaimie and Americans Kevin Pompey, Lemark Davies and Lonnie Beasley. They set up a WBC elimination bout with Felix Trinidad in Madison Square Garden in 1997. Trinidad is one of the greats.

A: Two weeks before the fight with Trinidad I was sparring the WBO middleweight champion Lonnie Bradley and he broke my rib. That meant no more sparring. My preparation was low leading into that fight. Trinidad is one of the greatest of all time. He stopped me in round one after he dropped me with a punch high on the head which is always a hard punch to take. Apart from that fight I think I proved my toughness over the years.

Q: In your final bout you stopped Ambrose Milo in 1998. Was it hard to step away from boxing after so many years at the top.

A: He was the All African champion. Very strong. I kept hitting him and in round seven the referee stopped the fight. I was training to fight again but decided it was time to give it away. I had been training for so many years I thought it was time for a change. I had 33 fights as a professional.



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