Meet The Blackest Losers – a group of Indigenous locals taking on the challenge to win the 2012 NSW Aboriginal Knockout. This is a ‘get fit’ competition, with the main focus obviously being on fun and camaraderie.
So in short, who are The Blackest Losers?
As you would guess, The Blackest Losers as a name is a play on words; we are a team of 25 Aboriginal community members in Armidale aiming to lose weight, look good, feel good and are also vying for the chance to win $70,000 in the process. There has been a great deal of excitement in the air, as we’ve continued on what will be a 16-week journey of circuits, challenges and most of all fun, which all started with a launch event at the Armidale PCYC on Monday 14 May.
The Blackest Losers are about having fun, getting healthy, losing weight, and we are also focused on winning the NSW Aboriginal Knock Out – weight loss challenge.
Tell us about the NSW State Knockout challenge?
‘The 16 week KO challenge’ has been put to members of Aboriginal communities NSW wide and is run in conjunction with the Australian Rugby League and NSW Aboriginal Rugby League KO carnival.
The aim of the challenge is to start to address the prevalence and effects of chronic disease within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, by engaging in healthy lifestyle and weight loss programs. The winners of the NSW Knock Out challenge, or should I say the community team with the highest percentage of weight loss, will win $70,000 to be used in and for their community, with second place receiving $20,000 and third place $10,000.
Part of our challenge is also raising public awareness and profile of the great things the Aboriginal community is doing already, with ‘The Challenge’ being just one.
How long have you lived in Armidale?
Late last year, my partner, Vanessa, and I moved up here with our daughter, Analeise. I have now been here for about 9 months, and I am loving it. As a child, my family would come up here and visit the mob all the time, and I have always had a soft spot for Armidale. I currently work at the University of New England as the Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Employment Officer and have been there since the 23rd January.
Who is involved locally?
As was said before, there are 25 community members who are involved in the challenge, but our workplaces, like mine up at UNE, have really come on board in supporting us in the challenge.
Also people like Amanda Tighe who is our team Manager and Catherine Faulkner who is our Team Captain have been great motivators and a lot of recognition should go to them both.
We would love to see more businesses come on board and sponsor The Blackest Losers weight loss team, and it doesn’t have to be monetary support. Your business may be a pit-stop in the Amazing Armidale Race (event) we have planned.
Highlights of this challenge?
Getting together with a group of people and having a laugh. I do love the fitness side of things, and even though I think I may need to lose a bit of the winter tummy I have happening, I really do love getting together with a like-minded group of people and having a laugh.
What message is your team trying to give by participating in the Knockout?
Laugh loud and laugh often, and I suppose we want to get the message out that anyone can lose weight and everyone deserves to live a long and happy life.
What do you personally gain from this project?
Like all of the contestants, personally I am hoping to lose a bit of weight (around 10 kg). I have already lost 4.9 kg in the last four weeks, so I am on track I think.
But I just want to be happy with myself and happy with where I am at health wise. I am also in the process of giving up the cigarettes; I have been off them for almost a month. I no longer drink alcohol and truly, I feel so much better for it.
Who is supporting this challenge?
As was said before, our workplaces such as New England Medicare Local, UNE, Hunter New England Health, to name a few, have been great supports to us.
The Armidale PCYC and SportUNE are also great sponsors, with our team doing Monday sessions at the PCYC and doing Tuesday and Friday night sessions at SportUNE with Quinn; Quinn is a funny guy and a really great motivator.
Personally and as the Chairperson of The Blackest Loser team committee, I want to send a big thank you to the guys at SportUNE for all their help and support with the challenge.
This story was published in issue 62 of New England Focus