Hooper s roller-coaster ride on an upward curve
Damien Hooper. Pic: Getty Images

Damien Hooper has his first professional fight in Perth on Friday but fans might have to enjoy the London Olympian while they can.

Unbeaten Hooper faces fellow Queenslander Josh Webb over six rounds at Metro City, a welcome addition to an already bustling card.

For the fast-handed light-heavyweight it’s a chance to tick over and catch up with his good mate Brandon Ogilvie, who is also on the Dragon Fire show.

But the difficulty in nailing down opponents for the Ricky Hatton-promoted fighter means he might soon have to take his 7-0 career overseas.

"People don’t want to fight me, the amount of money (they ask for), they don’t want to damage their record, you know. I just can’t wait to start excelling overseas a bit more," Hooper said.

“It’s getting harder to get opponents and training is pretty limited, so it would be good over there and spar with some of them over there and learn some things from Ricky himself and be a part of it in England.

"But in saying that, in Australia if you’re a good fighter and you’ve got the people behind you and you do the right thing for the community and your people, you get a good following."

The 22-year-old has had a roller-coaster couple of years since the Olympics, which started when his brother Troy was killed in a workplace accident.

Brushes with the booze and with the law followed and “Super Hooper” was in danger of squandering his massive potential.

“I wasn’t in the best shape of my life, I lost my brother and I wasn’t really myself as a person ... I didn’t want to live any more,” he said.

“I kind of drank myself to the point I couldn’t recognise myself, naturally things happen when you’re in that state of mind.

“Since then I’ve manned up, I’ve accepted the fact that my brother has gone. I’ve gone on with my career and trying to excel the best I way can in my sport and in my work.

“I’m working as a health promoter for indigenous health, I go out to communities and schools and talk to kids about leadership and about diseases and about poor choices and how it affects their health and their wellbeing.”

Hooper, who trains under Gareth Williams in Brisbane, has been working with Dave Hassan while in Perth.

On Monday, he will visit the Moorditj Noongar Community College in Midland. His championing of indigenous affairs, his natural talent and his knack for finding trouble have drawn comparisons to Anthony Mundine.

"Anthony was a role model for me growing up as a kid, as an indigenous man and a boxer, but I kind of want to follow my own path and lead the kids in my own direction and being a good role model," he said.

"I think I can make a real difference."

Hooper's wider appeal was noted at the start of the year when he was invited to Mexico City by the World Boxing Council to take part in the city half-marathon.

"Having won the WBC world youth (silver) belt I was invited over, that was pretty good," he said.

"I ran 12 kilometres but it felt like a full marathon. At altitude in Mexico City, the second highest city in the world, I think, and a lot of pollution, my lungs were catching up with me.

"That’s the sort of pathway Ricky Hatton wants me to go down, to have a relationship with the WBC and eventually fight for the WBC world title."

- Unbeaten cruiserweight John Squillace has had to pull out of Friday's show after picking up a split eye.

The West Australian

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