Doug Chappel is no stranger to taking centre stage, but even he admits to having a few nerves ahead of his next performance bout.
The Burnside comedian will exchange microphone for boxing gloves next month as he strives to change minds and make a difference in the community about violence against women.
Two horrific attacks in Melbourne struck a chord with the veteran comic.
Fellow comedian Eurydice Dixon was brutally raped and murdered in June, 2018, and 19-year-old student Aiia Maasarwe suffered the same fate while on her way home from one of Chappel’s stand-up gigs in January.
“I knew Eurydice a bit – not really well, but we’d crossed paths quite a bit at comedy events,” Chappel said.
“And from the times I’d spoken to her, I didn’t see one mean bone in her body. She was just a lovely person. So to have such a horrible thing happen her was just shocking.
“And then just seven months later, I’d finished a show, was feeling really good and happy, and then I find out the next day that Aiia was raped and murdered an hour after my show. It really struck home.
“To think that a couple of hours earlier she’s laughing at my show and having a great time … you think, even though you can’t do anything, you think about if the show was a bit longer or shorter she may have caught a different train and got home safe.
“Both of those deaths hit the comedy community hard, especially our female comics, who do late gigs like the rest of us … as a male, I felt like I wanted to try and do something.”
Chappel decided entering a male-dominated arena such as boxing would be a good way to spread his message.
He has been training hard every day for the August 2 bout, in which he will face an opponent yet to be announced. His son will also fight on the night, with Chappel jumping back into the ring for the first time in 25 years.
Chappel, who has lost 20 kilograms while training, said he hoped for a big crowd.
“Boxing is traditionally a male-oriented sport, but it’s between two consenting people,” he said. “This way I can reach men and maybe we can get some change in the community.
“I’ve been in comedy for 22 years and this past year has seen the biggest emotional turmoil in our community, so we want to make sure what happened to Eurydice and Aiia doesn’t happen again.
“That’s why I’m doing this. Every part of my body doesn’t want to do the training It’s been a mental as much as a physical challenge, but it’s for a good cause so you push yourself through.
“The response so far has been really positive and I really want men to come along and support it and think about the cause.”
The fights will take place at Melbourne Pavilion in Kensington, with a percentage of all ticket money going to family violence charity Impact. Tickets: teamellis.com.au/pretender-to-contender.html. Select “Doug Chappel” in the drop-down menu for the funds to go to Impact.