Geraldton teacher’s lesson in resilience

Francesca MannGeraldton Guardian
Ben Puzzar puts all his weight into a hit against Derek Goforth.
Camera IconBen Puzzar puts all his weight into a hit against Derek Goforth. Credit: Francesca Mann, The Geraldton Guardian

Derek Goforth may be a bit bruised after his first — and last — boxing match, but he is not broken.

In fact, the father-of-three is feeling stronger than ever after competing in the inaugural Fight Night: Fists of Fury, despite losing to his good friend and fellow teacher Ben Puzzar.

Goforth was one of 26 fighters to step into the ring last month for the sold-out event at Activewest Stadium — the first of its kind in Geraldton.

While many competitors were hungry for a win, for Goforth the fight was the perfect opportunity to set an example for his own children and his students at Champion Bay Senior High School.

“We teach the kids resilience and we teach them it doesn’t matter how hard you get hit, it’s about getting back up,” he said.

Halfway through round 2 of the fight, Goforth was able to put his advice to good use, when a particularly good hit from Puzzar sent him hurtling to the floor.

Derek Goforth slowly starts to rise after getting knocked down.
Camera IconDerek Goforth slowly starts to rise after getting knocked down. Credit: Francesca Mann, The Geraldton Guardian

As the referee started counting how long Goforth had left to stand and stay in the fight, the 800-strong crowd screamed out support for the 45-year-old, including a group of Goforth’s students up in the nosebleed seats.

“I could clearly hear one girl I teach screaming ‘get up, Mr G’,” he said with a smile.

“As I got up, I saw the entire crowd just stand up with me and I thought ‘this is amazing’.

“I had nothing left in my arms but then instincts took over and I went wailing again. Every punch I threw or every hit I took, people were screaming my name.”

Goforth said he was officially retired from fighting in the ring, saying “not even a re-match with Ben will tempt me”, but would continue training at Geraldton Boxing Centre, run by Paul Barrett.

Barrett, the mastermind behind Fight Night and Goforth’s trainer, said he was proud of all his fighters, especially Goforth, who picked up the boxing gloves a year ago.

“Unfortunately, Derek didn’t win but my God, that display of heart and spirit was amazing,” he said. “It was one of those movie moments where he wasn’t going to stay down.

“It was really emotional to hear that crowd roar for the underdog.”

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