The Contender Australia: Week 1

Kani attacks Clenshaw: photo FOX8/FOXTEL
Kani attacks Clenshaw: photo FOX8/FOXTEL
By Paul Upham: The new television boxing tournament series The Contender Australia premiered on Monday night November 2 at 8:30pm AEST. The FOX8 channel, Foxtel’s highest rating cable platform, will televise the hourly series over ten weeks, leading to a live finale on January 11, 2010.

The officially licensed spin off from Mark Burnett’s American version replicates the four original boxing series with one major difference. The eventual champion not only receives a title belt, cash and prizes, but also a guaranteed fight with two division world champion Anthony “The Man” Mundine and a pay cheque of $250,000 in 2010.

Week 1 saw the fourteen boxers arrive in their Homebush training camp where they were welcomed by hosts Daniel Amalm and Charlotte Dawson.

In a memorable scene, Anthony Mundine appeared in person and confronted all of the boxers. He reminded them that this was their once in a lifetime chance to win a fight with “The Man”. All of the boxers turned around to face Mundine as he spoke, except Sonni Michael Angelo, who kept his back turned to the two division world champion.

Senior mentor Johnny Lewis, the world champion trainer, will oversee the training of all of the boxers.

The boxers were divided into two teams, trained by Paul Briggs, Gold team and Billy Hussein, Blue team.

Blue Team (Billy Hussein)
Nader Hamdan
Israel Kani
Ben McCulloch
Luke Moloney
Victor Oganov
Pradeep Singh
Adrian Taihia

Gold Team (Paul Briggs)
Sonni Michael Angelo
Josh Clenshaw
Kariz Kariuki
Daniel McKinnon
Les Piper
Junior Talipeau
Garth Wood
The first individual challenge was a beach sprint and dune race where the first two boxers to finish were given entry directly into the quarter-finals and Fight 7, by-passing the first round of fights. Garth Wood, 1st and Ben McCulloch, 2nd were successful and received special quarter-finalists’ necklaces.

The second challenge saw each team filling a large container with sea water. Once the container was filled to the required level, two boxers from that team sprinted to the top of a nearby mountain. Along the way, they were required to memorise a combination code to release a lock that floated a coloured balloon signalling victory.

While Ben McCulloch (Blue) was the first to the top, he did not remember the lock code correctly and the Gold team eventually won after a tense few seconds.

With the power to make Fight 1, Josh Clenshaw (Gold), 32 years, 26-16 (13), called out Israel Kani (Blue), 36 years, 9-2-2 (4), for the first five round match.

The edited highlights of the match between the two former Australian champions showed a tense battle that could have gone either way.

The entire fight can be seen on-line in its entirety at

The official result was a five round split points decision win for Josh Clenshaw.

Judge Ray Reed 50-45 - Clenshaw
Judge George Plellis 48-47 - Clenshaw
Judge Darren Jones 47-48 - Kani
Referee Mick Heafey

The official date of the fight was August 14, 2009 at Olympic Park, Homebush, Sydney.

Israel Kani was eliminated from the tournament and forced to hang up his Contender gloves.

It was a very entertaining beginning to the new series. The storylines of the boxers were told well and the editing was very professional.

The Contender Australia Week 2 will premiere on Monday night November 9 at 8:30pm AEST on FOX8, with replays screened throughout the week.

Paul Upham
Content Editor
Israel Kani is eliminated: photo FOX8/FOXTEL
Israel Kani is eliminated: photo FOX8/FOXTEL
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