'Lionheart' leaves legacy for future fighters

QUEENSLAND'S "Cinderella man'' of Australian boxing, Alex Leapai, has hung up the gloves.

The Logan truck driver, who had a shot at the heavyweight world boxing title, announced his retirement amid news of his father's passing.

The professional heavy- weight boxer made his debut in 2004 and rose to fame when he upset Russian fighter Denis Boytsov and was the first Australian in 106 years to have a shot at the world title.

Nicknamed "the Lionheart'', Leapai was an ambassador of Australian and Samoan boxing with 30 wins, seven loses and three draws from 40 professional fights.

The 36-year-old had surgery on both eyes after a fight in 2014. He was told he risked going blind if he continued to fight.

Over the years, Noel Thornberry has acted as Leapai's manager, promoter and trainer.

Thornberry said the time was right for Alex to pursue a life outside the ring.

"I couldn't see him achieving any more than he already has,'' Thornberry said. "He can go home healthy, young and strong and walk away intact and that's more important."

Thornberry said Leapai's story was an inspiring one that would live on.

"He's done his bit, he will go into the Australian boxing hall of fame and move on to the next chapter in life," he said. "He's given people reason to get excited and get interested in the sport of boxing in Australia.''

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