NORTH SYDNEY, N.S. -- Josh Prince says he was overweight and low on confidence when he took up boxing as a teen.

Now he's about to make his pro debut on Friday in front of a hometown crowd.

Prince has had to square off against more than just his share of opponents to get to where he is today.

He's had to battle the odds, too.

"I never really had much self-confidence," Prince said. "I was kinda being bullied."

When he first stepped into the ring at age 13, Prince weighed nearly 200 pounds.

That was a lot on his adolescent frame, so he took up boxing as a way to try and lose weight and become more active.

At first, it looked like that might be all it would ever amount to.

"We never really thought he'd make a fighter, but he came in, worked hard, and really proved us wrong," said Steven MacDonald, the head coach of Tri-Town Boxing.

Now, Josh will become the first member of North Sydney's Tri-Town Boxing Club to fight on a professional card.   

So how did he overcome the odds?

"Heart. 100 per cent," said MacDonald. "A boxer needs more heart than skill. Skill we can teach them, heart we can't teach them. He's got a ton of heart."

At 20 years old, Prince now tips the scales at a trim 165 pounds, but he says more important than the weight, the sport has allowed him to shed his previous self-image.

"It boosted my self-confidence a ton," Prince said. "I used to walk around slouched down and all that. I don't know, it kind of gives you self-worth."

Prince's debut comes Friday evening at Sydney's Centre 200 on a fight card dubbed the Valentine's Day Massacre.

It's headlined by another well-known local boxer, Sydney's Ryan Rozicki.

"Seeing all my friends and family there, all the people who supported me, from when I started is the biggest thing for me," Prince said.

The exposure will mean a bigger platform for a young man who's already looked up to by children here at his boxing club.

"He's not just an athlete," MacDonald said. "He's a role model for smaller kids."

While the jump from the amateur ranks to pro is a big one, Prince and his coaches feel he is ready.

And, whether it's boxing or anything else in life, his message to youth who might be in the same shoes he was is simple.

"Just find something you like to do and work hard towards it," Prince said.

His ultimate goal is a Canadian professional championship one day, but for now, he's focused on debuting under the Friday night lights right here at home.