IT becomes very clear, very quickly, why Cairns fighter Thomas McRoberts is known as “the Tank” whenever he steps in the ring.
The 24-year-old Fight Academy weapon spends most of his spare time at the Destination Fitness Gym in Manunda, training and refining his game. And after six years of hard work, it has started to pay off in the ring.
Already a Queensland champion, which he defended in his last fight, McRoberts is in the middle of preparations for a WKBF Australian cruiserweight title opportunity.
If the March bout follows the script of McRoberts’s last few trips to the squared circle, it may very well end in an early night for the unfortunate soul in the other corner.
When asked what made McRoberts so good as a Muay Thai competitor, his trainer, Patrick Doherty, described a knockout artist who could use any available tool to earn the all-important win.
“He’s got big hands but he’s dangerous from everywhere,” Doherty said.
“He’s dangerous with his kicks, his hands, and he’s also quite strong in the grapple.
“He’s long and tall for his division, he’s usually a giant out there against his opponents. It’s perfect for Muay Thai having that length.
“But the big hands, definitely, he knocks people out all the time.”
McRoberts has trained with Doherty for the past six years, first arriving at the Manunda gym as a “little kid” looking for a way to become fitter and growing into the machine he is today. That transformation can be traced to his dedication to the sport, fuelled by a love of training.
“I got into it at the start as kickboxing fitness then ended up falling in love with the sport,” McRoberts said. “First fight was awesome. The adrenalin, the atmosphere, the training leading into the fight – that’s why I’m still here, six years later.”
McRoberts has always trained under Doherty (“he’s good, that’s why we’re winning titles”), and the partnership has brought plenty of success. For Doherty, it comes back to McRoberts’s attitude towards every facet of the fight game.
“He’s a tough boy,” Doherty said. “Clean-cut, trains hard, runs hard, and he fights hard as well. He’s been doing it for a while now. He was just a little kid when he first came in here and now he’s just gotten better, bit by bit, and it’s all starting to pay off.”
His preparation for this fight will be very much in line with what he’s done for every bout over his short amateur career, most of which centres on hard, honest work and plenty of time on the pads. “It’s just to keep training hard, like I’ve been doing, and staying consistent,” he said.
“Every day, just grinding with the boys at the gym, Monday to Friday.
“Hitting hard pads, good pads, and staying consistent – not slacking off, just training every day.”
McRoberts, who counts his elbows among his most lethal weapons in the ring, knows exactly what to expect when he stands opposite Karma Muay Thai’s Chris Yeo on March 13.
“I know he’s going to be tough; he’s going to walk forward on me,” he said.
“He’s a southpaw, so he’ll throw a lot of shots from the left side. But we’ll be ready for him.”