Bouncer Ben Wrotniak is the man who intends to derail Barry Hall and his ambitious boxing plans.
Wrotniak will be the former AFL star’s first professional opponent in a much-anticipated bout in Melbourne in May, with further details of the venue and date to be released soon.
And the 27-year-old heavyweight, known as “The Overcomer” after winning a battle against depression and personal issues, says he has God to thank for the boxing opportunity of his lifetime.
“My father is a minister (at the Kingswood Real Life Church) and last Sunday he asked if there was anybody in the congregation who needed a miracle,” Wrotniak said.
“I stood up and prayed for the chance to reach my potential as a boxer … then a couple of days later I got the phone call that changed it all for me.”
Wrotniak has not fought since March last year, but boasts a 4-0 professional record (one knockout).
He insists he can beat 35-year-old Hall, whom many judges consider one of Australia’s most exciting boxing prospects.
“I am going to grab it with both hands, and if needs be, my legs, too. This is what I have been waiting for all my life. I’m hungry and ready to fight for my dream.
“I have to pay respect to Barry Hall. He is a great athlete who has won a lot of accolades and medals in the AFL. But I take myself seriously as a professional boxer. I am 100 per cent convinced that I will beat him.”
Wrotniak, the son of Polish immigrants, says his tough upbringing in Claremont Meadows, a suburb 50km west of Sydney, and his personal battles have steeled him for the fight.
“I feel like my life is a Rocky movie. I’m Rocky and Barry is Apollo Creed. The difference is, it will be like the Rocky I movie with the Rocky II ending (where Rocky Balboa wins).”
Wrotniak said the biggest crowd he had fought before was in 2000 at the Blacktown RSL. His bout with Hall could come before more than 15,000.
“I’m not worried about that,” he said. “All I know is that Barry Hall has never been into the ring as a professional, and I have.
“My greatest strength is my unpredictability. You never know what you’re going to get when you step into the ring with Ben Wrotniak.”
by Buford Balony