"WHEN I was a street kid, when I was 13, I was taking Coke bottles to the depot to get enough money to buy fish and chips.
"By the time I was 28, I owned my own home and drove a Porsche."
These are the words of boxing champion Bobby Wilson, and his journey between growing up rough on the streets to becoming a community mentor, role model and upholder of justice.
Twenty-five years in the making, Bobby "Precious" Wilson's stories have officially been published in his memoirs A Fire Tonight, and he's invited the community to help him celebrate his book launch at The J on December 5, from 6pm.
Standing in his gym Awesome Wilson Boxing on Rene St, Bobby is surrounded by mementos of his past - photographs of fights, tournament posters and souvenirs of proud moments.
He's a strong man with a big heart - figuratively and literally - full of life, passion and love for his "beautiful wife, God bless her".
However, there are many dark times that have gone unrecorded, now to be revealed within the pages of his book.
Bobby grew up surrounded by alcohol, violence and death, and learnt the harsh realities of life in a volatile home and on the streets.
Despite the adversity he faced every day, he developed a strong moral compass, and has helped to turn around the lives of countless others with his boxing training.
"The childhood and life I've had, it's helped me relate to the kids," Bobby said.
"I get kids that have been told they're no good at school, they're bad at home, they're getting in trouble.
"I train with them, and they're some of the best in the class. I tell them 'you're great at this, you're doing really well'. Who's told them that in the last 10 years?"
Finding the strength within himself, Bobby personifies taking the bad and finding the positive.
"They reckon the greatest education is adversity," he said.
"I wouldn't communicate when I was young, I had violence. But I used it to protect people - the people who couldn't protect themselves.
"I remember as a kid, I would be scared, praying for protection, and I never had it. So I realised that maybe it's me. Maybe I had to be the protector."
Bobby said he wanted his book to inspire his readers, and that even in the face of hardship, there was still one thing that could be found - humour.
"I wrote it to recognise the people that we meet," Bobby said.
"I wrote it about all of these people, mentors, gangsters, street people - they're funny.
"Humour is immense and universal."
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