To see why Justin O’Leary is the Scenic Rim Citizen of the Year, take a drive past the corner of Mill Street and Pitt Street on any weekday afternoon or Saturday morning.
See photos at end of story, below.
From the corrugated tin ground floor of his family home O’Leary, 43, operates Beaudesert Boxing Club for the kids and youth of Beaudesert.
He does it not for the money, but for the love of boxing and for the sense of community it creates for everyone involved.
Passion for community
Scenic Rim Citizen of the Year Justin O’Leary has paid tribute to his wife Sharlyn and other stalwarts of Beaudesert’s boxing community.
O’Leary, 43, who runs Beaudesert Boxing Club out of the family home he shares with Sharlyn and their three children, was named 2023 Citizen of the Year (31-65 years) for his contributions to the youth of Beaudesert.
O’Leary told the Beaudesert Bulletin he was happy to be recognised but he could not do it alone.
“When I found out I was nominated I was surprised but pretty happy. Anyone who says they don’t like getting a bit of credit for what they do would be lying,” he said.
“This award was 90 per cent because of Beaudesert Boxing Club, and a lot of people over the years have driven kids around, taken them interstate, had kids at their houses, taken them to sparring, fed them; Graham Porter, David Sarah, Debbie Creighton, parents of boxers over the years. I don’t want people to think it’s just me doing those things.”
O’Leary has run Beaudesert Boxing Club for 15 years, including out of his home for about a decade.
“Toro Tomlinson used to train the kids at Mununjali Hall, then I started helping him, then he passed away, then I sort of just started doing it,” he said.
“We’ve been at Mununjali Hall, Freedom when it was called Smashed, then Steve and Cam Costin let us train in their shed at Veresdale Scrub. A lot of people helped us keep going.
“Obviously it’s a team effort with my wife; we’ve had kids at our house five or six days a week for 10 years and we’ve had a couple of them live with us, and Sharlyn does a lot. I don’t think people really realise.”
Justin, whose day job is in disability support work, said when he stopped boxing himself, he enjoyed keeping busy with the club outside work.
“Because I’ve got a full-time job, I just charge enough to cover costs. I don’t want to do it as a business, that’d take the fun out of it,” he said.
“If you look at all the friends I’ve got now, 90 per cent are through boxing and I like that community small town feel, just going downtown seeing someone who used to train here when they were 12 and now, they’re 25 and they say g’day.”