A State of Origin boxing tournament will be held for the first time ever this weekend, taking place in Toowoomba, Queensland.
A NSW team has been selected, so too has a Queensland team - and among the line-up of 18 boxers on each side will be Ben Hayes of Parkes.
It's an amateur boxing match, held on July 13, but a number of NSW and Queensland NRL players have been getting behind the tournament and helping to promote it.
Hayes - who just last year in April took the Australian Junior Welterweight under 63.5kg title - will not only compete but he's been named captain of the NSW squad.
He's been scheduled to fight Queensland's captain Billy Holland in the 67kg Welterweight division, which will be the last fight of the night.
"It was a surprise, I wasn't expecting that," Hayes said of his captaincy.
Hayes has had 12 wins from 14 fights and was selected following a City v Country boxing match two months ago at Punchbowl, Sydney, where the NSW side was named.
It's the first time the 20-year-old has been named in a team in what is otherwise an individual sport.
"This is the first year, there's been a big lead up to it," said Hayes' coach Tommy Ward of Parkes.
Whichever state wins the most fights out of the 18 matches, wins the Origin tournament.
"I was hoping to be selected, I had to win to be selected," Hayes said.
"My goal is to win.
"The plan is just breaking down - finding their weaknesses and focusing on that."
Hayes had increased his training to prepare for the fight, which included running, sprinting, boxing and sparring twice a day for a total of two and a half hours.
He's also been chopping wood on weekends to help fund his trip.
And when he has a little spare time on a Friday night, he helps out with training the physio kids.
"It's all about commitment - the more you commit, the better you are," Ward said.
"It's one of the main reasons why this boy is going to Queensland.
"He's very dedicated to what he does... Just the commitment in this boy is unbelievable.
"Everything he gets out of this sport he deserves."
Ward said when most boxers reach a certain age, such as Hayes', they're forced to give up the sport to move away for work or other things.
"So he doesn't have many sparring partners - he's been doing a lot of travelling for sparring, mainly going to Dubbo," he said.
But thanks to Parkes Spacemen first grade players Joey Dwyer, Brandon Paige and Jay Slavin, they've been helping him to keep fit in the gym, and his coaches Ward, Ian Logan and Robert Toomey from Dubbo, fit in the ring.
Hayes' 13-year-old sister Ava Hayes attends nearly all of his training sessions and helps him train where she can.
Hayes said his ultimate goal is to turn pro one day.
"It (boxing) keeps me out of trouble, I want to make a name for myself," he said.
"I like the challenge, I'm doing things I didn't think I could do."
Dubbo trainer John Hill Junior will be joining Hayes on his trip to Queensland, while Hayes' father will be there to watch the fight too.
The State of Origin parade and opening will take place at 4.45pm, with the first fight to begin at 5pm.
"Boxing teaches the boys control," Ward said.
"It's like life, you make one bad decision, you get punched in the nose. You need to make good decisions."
For anyone interested in sponsoring Hayes on his trip to Queensland, can call Tommy Ward on 0458 513 757.
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