IT is midnight, she has been on the treadmill for three hours in multiple layers of clothing and hasn’t had a drop of water to drink, yet Kylie Fulmer continues to stride out.
She is driven by a dream, one which many have doubted she could achieve, one she has spent eight years working towards and been through physical and mental nightmares to reach.
Fast-forward three days later and with the look of steely determination on her face replaced by a smile, Fulmer is crowned the World Boxing Federation Women’s Intercontinental Super Bantamweight world champion.
To say that the moment the Bathurst native had her arm raised in the air at the Big Punch Arena in Tijuana was emotional is a understatement.
“It was like my whole journey flashed in front of me because I've dreamed that moment for the last eight years. I've had so many rock bottoms when I could have quit, but there was just something in my heart, I knew I couldn’t,” Fulmer said.
“Boxing means more to me than just belts, it's about setting goals and reaching those goals. It’s the best feeling to get your hand raised and know that you have achieved what you've been aiming for.
“It still hasn't hit me I don’t think, it’s been crazy. We didn’t go to sleep on Saturday night because we just had dinner with the team and jumped in the car at four o’clock and drove back to Vegas.”
While the now 36-year-old had devoted more hours of hard grind to that triumphant moment that she would care to contemplate, she went into the title fight full of confidence.
Her record stood at 5-0, with four of those wins via knockouts. Her mental strength was just as impressive.
“Failing is not an option anymore because I’ve committed so much time and made so many sacrifices to actually get here and stand in that position,” she said.
“I'm not going to let anyone get in my way now - I want to smash through anything that stands in my way.”
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Fulmer, who walks around as a lean 60 kilograms, had to cut some five kilograms for the fight. That was why she spent the long hours on the treadmill then in the sauna.
On the five-hour trip to get to the venue she worried that the scales would be okay and dreamt of ‘that golden bottle of water.’
“That moment when you drink that water. I can't explain how good it tastes, water is so under-rated,” she said.
But the weigh in went fine - Fulmer at 55.3kg and her rival Mexico’s Dulce Galaviz at 54.5kg.
While Galaviz was not the boxer Fulmer had expected to meet – a fighter with the experience of 20 prior bouts not passing her medical – she still came out hard.
She was looking to improve on her record of two wins, a draw and five losses in front of a vocal crowd. But Fulmer responded.
“She was a really tough boxer. The first two rounds it took a little bit of time for me to find my distance because she is a lot bigger than me and a lot taller, I had to find my rhythm,” she said.
“I'm always a bit of a slow starter in the first two rounds, but once I got settled in the third round I started to feel really comfortable. I started to get my timing and I stuck to my game plan to try and break her body down, use a nice quick jab and get on the inside and I just started to chop her body.
“I clinched her a few times at the end of the third and I could hear she was starting to blow out. By the time I came out in the fourth I just picked it up, started cutting off the ring and started really putting the heavier shots on her.
“In the end the referee jumped in and stopped it. I could feel the power, I felt so explosive ... punches in bunches, I just got her on the ropes and that was it.”
While Fulmer now has a WBF belt to call her own, it is by no means all she wants to achieve in the ring. She is setting new goals, thinking about getting the chance to fight in Las Vegas and testing herself against harder opponents.
“I feel like I made a lot of improvements in the fight and a lot of things we did in the gym I took to the ring. I always fight better than I actually spar, I have some really good quality sparring in the gym, but I know when it’s fight time I always step up to that whole new level,” she said.
“It was cool to feel that. In the fight I could just feel the explosive power coming through those gloves, it's such a different thing when you are training with 14 ounce gloves then you put eight ounce gloves on, they just feel like rockets on your hands they are so light.”
Outside of the ring Fulmer has goals too. She wants to be an inspiration to the next generation of boxers as well as children in general.
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She feels that they can benefit from some of the hard lessons she learned on the way to becoming a world champion.
“If I can inspire anyone to go out there and chase their dreams, to show people that yes, you may be different, but you can go out there and do what you want, that’s really important to me,” she said.
“You don’t have to live that white picket fence lifestyle like I once thought you had to. You can be different, I know I’m crazy as hell but I’m okay with that because I love what I’m doing.
“I want to pass that on to kids and let them know they’re not alone because I know how that feels. Along the way, the path I’ve walked at times has been hell ... there are times when you feel totally alone, you have this dream but you’re the only one that can see it, there are so many people that doubt.
“You’ve just got to believe in yourself.”