SYDNEY- Australia's newest boxing champion Sam Soliman has taken a longer more difficult route to the top than perhaps any of the nation's previous world title-winning pugilists.
His unanimous points win over Felix Sturm in Germany on Sunday, which earned him the IBF middleweight crown, represented the crowning glory of a long career.
At 40, an age when most boxers have hung the gloves up, Victorian Soliman is in his prime.
He hasn't lost for six years, but it's been an arduous slog for the ever-smiling Soliman.
The Victorian has endured a mix of highs and lows since turning professional in 1997.
He won Australian titles in three divisions and several regional middleweight belts, but has suffered 11 losses in 56 bouts and more than his fair share of setbacks along the way.
Between 1999 and 2001, he lost five times in nine fights, three of them coming while he was based in Europe.
He has lost three times to Anthony Mundine and recently had to defend his reputation after a positive drug test following his first bout against Sturm in Dusseldorf in February 2013.
The Bund Deutscher Berufsboxer (BDB), the German organisation supervising the fight, which Soliman won on a unanimous decision, announced he had tested positive for an illegal stimulant.