Newly-crowned Australian masters boxing champion Darcy Brown knows whatever faces him in the ring, the larger fight on his hands is breaking down stigmas mental health, ADHD and autism.
The 51-year-old Wiradjuri man won the national 75.1-80kg class in the 50-55 age bracket in July.
Fighting under the name Buddy Oldman, Brown took to the sport fewer than two years ago to get back into physical shape before realising the bigger battle was fought upstairs.
Sexually abused as a child and later suffering from PTSD and depression through adulthood, Mr Brown shied away from boxing earlier in life.
It was labelled a mug's game by his late late father, who himself had been an exhibition tent-fighter in his youth.
Brown's dramatic rise from novice to national champ is spurred on partly by his own struggles, but even more so by the opportunity he hopes it brings to the lives of others.
Now living in Albury, he and his wife have fostered Aboriginal kids for 20 years and are currently the guardian to a neurodivergent child.
Working in special needs and with an autistic son and grandson, Brown said representation through sport could have wide-reaching advantages.
He fights to raise awareness for these conditions and for those diagnosed to be treated equally in all area's of life.
His message has stretched to include the Aboriginal health in general, and at times the LGBTQ+ community.
"I've just taken it upon myself to make it happen," Brown said.
"A lot of people contact me with mental health people, parents of kids on the spectrum, kids and parents on the spectrum reaching out saying thank you for letting it be known."
"I won't take money to endorse anything."
Subscribing to the idea physical activity - particularly within group environments - is great for mental health, Brown said it often doubled as an avenue to bring people out of their shells.
"Purely by the endorphins it releases in your brain, it brings out your communication skills , it brings our friendship, you're meeting people face to face, to your communication skills grow, your ability to fit in with groups," Brown said.
"Where I train, we have a lot of people coming in within on the NDIS purely for their communication skills and be able to interact.
"I really push big time with ADHD and autism for inclusion."
"I try and each fight I have, if possible to have a person or people with ADHD or mental health (concerns) or autism to lead me to the ring, so that it gives them inclusion in what I'm doing."
He said the rich history Indigenous people share with boxing makes it a natural fit to explore for mob.
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