Billy Ward is off to London

Billy Ward at Gladstone Airport and happy to be home.
Billy Ward at Gladstone Airport and happy to be home. Kara Irving

GLADSTONE teenager Billy Ward really packs a punch.

On Sunday, the 18-year-old's wildest dreams came true when he qualified for a place on the 2012 Australian Men's Olympic Boxing team.

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"I'm pretty happy, it's sort of all beginning for me," Billy said.

"But I know I have a lot of training and hard hours to put in."

Billy's ticket to London comes as he defeated Papua New Guinea's Charlie Keamau by five points during the Oceania championships in Canberra.

Sunday's match was one of the three matches needed to qualify for the Olympics.

Billy's success in the Queensland and Australian boxing titles also came into account.

"It just didn't sink in. It was a totally different feeling to what I thought I would have felt.

"Now I feel great about it and I'm confident and happy," Billy said.

Yesterday his arrival at Gladstone Airport was met with cheers, hugs and tears from family and close friends.

Billy also received the rock star treatment when a cheer squad of girls donning his trademark red locks welcomed him at the gate.

Since 2003 Billy has been prevalent across the Australian boxing circuit, guided by longtime mentor and coach Mick Daly.

In that time Billy has received numerous sporting accolades, including a 2007 Golden Gloves award.

Billy said he admired a range of boxers, but was inspired by his former boxing father.

"Muhammad Ali was a great fighter and he was told he could never do it because of the way he fought. I also like Anthony Mundine and Mike Tyson too."

Billy flew into Gladstone with parents Darcy and Julie Ward and his sister Jessica.

"We are so proud of him," Julie said.

"Just as long as I fight my best and give it my all, then I don't care if I have to be carried out of the ring, just as long as I give it my all."

In August Billy will jet off to London with his dad and sister.

Topics:  boxing gladstone london london olympics olympics

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