Traralgon's Steven Baldacchino first stepped into the kickboxing ring as a bright-eyed 18-year-old with lofty ambitions.
That maiden fight more than 13 years ago at a humble gym in Hoppers Crossing reassured him he was on to a good thing.
"I knew after my first fight," Baldacchino said.
"I had an undying passion for the sport and I just knew if I stuck with it I'd get to where I wanted to get to."
A veritable veteran of the sport, the 31-year-old has eclipsed his own expectations and can now call himself a triple national title holder.
Saturday's International WKBF K1 fight in Melbourne marked professional bout number 34 and Australian title number three for Baldacchino.
He claimed belts in 2007 and 2013 but said the 2018 win was the sweetest of all.
"I guess this one means more, you know, because it shows that I can still achieve great things in the sport and find bigger and better challenges," he said.
"The sport does get harder as time passes and fighters are a lot better than what they used to be, so to be able to pull off another Australian title, it's probably a bit emotional as well."
A 70-strong support crew from the Latrobe Valley journeyed to Melbourne to watch the welterweight take the title over 22-year-old Elliott Glenister.
Though physically "bigger, broader and stronger", Baldacchino said it was experience that trumped youth on the day.
"He was a super tough kid and they're a new breed of fighter coming through now," he said.
"But what keeps me going is the passion I have for the sport ... and good, clean living plays a part in that, too."
The title win was a particularly impressive one for Baldacchino given it was second in the space of two months.
"I had a really good win eight weeks ago and to try and maintain that for that last eight weeks ... is when it really counts for a fighter," he said.
"I'm a bit older, so I'm not training every day like some of the younger ones ... I still train five to six times a week but I try to break it up a bit for recovery."
While Baldacchino has been doing the rounds for 13 years, it hasn't been a straight road.
But some veering off course was corrected with the help of wife Kim-Alina.
"I didn't compete for five years and lost my way a bit," he said.
"Kim-Alina is also a professional fighter so I suppose it's always a team effort to win a title.
"She's the biggest team player for me and I can definitely say that I wouldn't be able to do what I do without her. You can always find other coaches, other nutritionists ... but if I didn't have her I wouldn't be able to do it."