By Jordan Gerrans
Apprentice hoop Sheriden Tomlinson steps into the boxing ring this Saturday night with two desires.
Firstly, he wants to put on a show – a scrap as he says with a fellow rider – and claim the much needed bragging rights for whenever he is at the races or at track work in the morning.
And, secondly, with a few mates who have sadly passed from suicide in recent years, Tomlinson is intent on doing their families proud, raising awareness and funds for mental health causes.
The three-kilo claimer in town will step into the ring as part of the “Fight For a Cause” concept, which pits jockeys against each other, raising much needed funds for charity, while providing everyday people the experience of stepping into a boxing ring in front of a packed arena.
The UK-born Tomlinson lost two mates to suicide earlier in his life, which pushed him to get involved in the concept.
One of the people who committed suicide was a close friend of Tomlinson’s younger sister.
“It impacted not only his family and my sister, she was pretty upset, everyone was upset but it brought us all together, the entire school,” Tomlinson said.
“It is never weak to speak, hopefully people now can reach out to someone if they are having problems.
“I am open to talking to anyone if they feel like they are going through something.”
Fight For a Cause has partnered with the Mental Awareness Foundation, who support charities that are working directly with communities who are implementing strategies to raise awareness of depression and mental illness, while supporting the preservation of life.
Tomlinson has stayed in contact with the families of the mates he lost and hopes he can do them proud on Saturday.
“Mental health awareness, it means a bit to me because I have lost a few friends to suicide over the years,” Tomlinson said.
“Hopefully we can go out and do something for their families.
“I have had mothers of the people who committed suicide message me and say how much they appreciate what we are doing, they are coming to the fight too.
“Hopefully we can raise some money for them.”
Former Australian professional boxer Corey McConnell, who these days trains jockeys and other racing participants to keep their fitness up, has coached the jockeys in their boxing growth over the last 10 weeks.
The experienced McConnell has had the Queensland-based jockeys at Northside Boxing in Nundah once or twice a week over the last 10 weeks to get them fight night ready.
Adin Thompson, Madeleine Wishart, Ryan Maloney, and Zoe White, among others, are also apart of the program.