Coward's punch hits too close to home for Shelley Watts

LAURIETON Olympic boxing hopeful, Shelley Watts, is throwing her support behind a social media campaign to prevent the "coward's punch."

On her Facebook page, Shelley posted a photo supporting fellow boxer Brad Hore's campaign called #KeepYourHandsToYourself, because "With too many cowards thinking it's ok to use violence and punch someone else when they don't expect it...we all need to band together! This needs to stop!" Shelley said in her post.

"My dad was the victim of a coward punch before Christmas and it left him unconscious, rushed to hospital ... requiring surgery on a shattered cheek bone that had more than 8 fractures through it! He now has a plate and wires to keep it in place."

Shelley's father Michael was at the Laurieton Hotel on Friday December 4 at around 8.30pm.

Mr Watts said he was out the front of the hotel when the alleged offender, a 30-year-old North Haven man, who happened to be nearby, threatened him verbally.

"I don't know the guy. I was having a cigarette talking to someone and he just went off and said something to the effect of 'I'm going to knock every tooth from your head'," he said.

Mr Watts said he went back inside the hotel to his friends to continue his evening socialising.

A short time later, police said, the hotel's security staff asked the 30-year-old to leave.

"Security had escorted him from the premises and I believe he returned later," Mr Watts said.

"I was out the front having a cigarette and saw him walking towards me but I didn't realise at the time that it was the same bloke. I just turned and the next thing I knew was on the deck."

Police allege the man launched himself at Mr Watts landing one punch to his cheek. 

Mr Watts was taken by ambulance to Port Macquarie Base Hospital. He underwent surgery six days after the attack to repair fractures to his face.

The alleged offender was charged with causing reckless grievous bodily harm and will appear in Port Macquarie Local Court on January 20.

Mr Watts said it took him a few days to comprehend what had happened.

"When I realised the amount of damage done, it's frightening to think about," he said.

"The left side of my face is still numb and the specialist said that could continue as a result of the nerve damage [from the injuries caused by the attack]. I don't know what else could have been done to prevent this attack. Security had been keeping an eye on him and escorted him off the premises."

Mr Watts said if anyone is threatened or feels uncomfortable in a similar situation, to speak to security or staff on duty. He said offenders need to think of the consequences of their actions, before they make them.

"I'm not the kind of bloke that will call the police because someone has threatened me," Mr Watts said.

"But people should tell someone if they do feel uncomfortable. On the other hand, people should count to ten and think about the consequences of a brain snap. I mean, people have died from this kind of attack."

So let's mention the obvious difference between the one-punch attack and the fact Mr Watts' daughter, Shelley, was the first Australian to win a gold medal in boxing at the Commonwealth Games and is currently eyeing a spot on the Australian Olympic Team.

"I'm really proud of Shelley and what she's done over the last four or five years," Mr Watts said.

"She's become the face of a physical contact sport. She loves what she does and she does it in a professional way."

READ MORE: Australia's violent year underlying violence needs to be addressed


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