It’s good to be back, Crossfire Nation.
Since I last reported for The Crossfire, I’ve been working away as the head boxing coach/instructor with Clubb Canada (boxing & fitness). Clubb Canada is a competitive boxing and fitness business that operates out of a MMA gym called MMA World Academy, located in Scarborough.
At the Academy, I teach general and advanced boxing classes, bootcamp classes and personal training. I’ve been training a few amateur boxers, a professional Muay Thai fighter and a Master’s League female boxer. Master’s League means boxers who compete over the age of 40 in sanctioned amateur events. Heather Alonzo (63 years old), and with a (1-0) amateur record is preparing for her second fight for the summer of 2016!
Last November 29th, Clubb Canada hosted an amateur boxing club show at the Chinese Cultural Centre in Scarborough. Featuring fighters from several Toronto clubs like: Sully’s, Cabbagetown and Atlas Boxing clubs, just to name a few. In short, it was a great show for Clubb Canada.
Then in February, I entered two of my boxers into the Bronze Gloves tournament, a.k.a. The Ontario Provincials. I entered two of my novice boxers, Brya Ghafoor and Louise “Little Pacquiao” Reyes.
When the Provincials ended, I had one champ (one gold medalist) and one silver medalist, as Ghafoor won the silver in the novice 64kgs weight class. Reyes went on to win the gold medal in the 60kg (132lbs.) Novice (Novice means a boxer with less than10 bouts of experience) class.
I received a phone call from Team Ontario’s coach, Socrates Celestial, mentioning that Boxing Ontario would like to see Reyes upgraded to an “open class level” so he could compete in the 2016 Nationals to be held in Quebec City, Quebec. So without any hesitation, I upgraded Lil’ Pacquiao.
With only eight (8) bouts of boxing experience, Reyes was upgraded and moved into the Nationals just weeks later, and has an important tournament coming up in Quebec City, Quebec.
No small feat.
So, Louise and I make the ten-hour trip to Quebec City for the Nationals. We arrived Monday night around 6:40PM ET. Once we checked into the hotel, I got an email from Team Ontario that we were expected for an arranged training session in twenty minutes at the main hall of the Hilton hotel.
We trained for about an hour on shadowboxing, focus mitt training, planning and strategies. At the end, we are physically and mentally engaged that we have a shot at maybe winning this. The draw commenced around noon. on the Wednesday, conducted by Boxing Ontario veteran, Val Ryan of McGrory’s Boxing club of Hamilton. The draw went quickly and smoothly and we now have an opponent confirmed for round one. We were fighting a 17-year old from Alberta. Pretty cool, here we are at the Nationals, and we had an opponent lined up for later that evening, scheduled for after 6:00PM.
To make a long story short, we didn’t get into the ring until nearly five (5) hours later. My boxer was dealing with a stomach problem, I was trying to keep him warm, but not too warm as we had lots of time to kill.
Then, it was fight time!
The fight started out good. Both boxers worked their jabs looking for openings, trying to create openings to land their hard blows. Round one was a close match. Good exchanges between the two 17-year-old boxers. In the corner, I told Reyes: Great work, now more combinations. Round 2: Reyes and his opponent started to pick up the pace. More combinations now. Busy round for both boxers, nice pace, good ring generalship, from Reyes. Third and final round: Reyes caught his opponent with a hard left hook when the two entangled in the corner, just off the ropes. The kid from Alberta began to clearly move slower than usual. However, so was Reyes; all of a sudden, he too is now slowing down in pace and punch output.
We saw our opponent from Alberta was now hurt and a little scared. But Reyes, was also contending against an upset stomach from something he ate earlier, and the time is counting down. I needed Reyes to come up with something big to get us back into this fight as it was close. However, in my mind, I worried Reyes is slightly down on points. So I, along with the two (2) other Team Ontario coaches Socrates Celestial and Jill Perry, shout out at Reyes to pick it up.
“Come on Louise, turn it up on him!”
— Boxing Canada (@boxing_canada) July 14, 2014
Then, ding-ding. The two Ontario coaches and I stepped up to the ringside. As we removed his mouthpiece and headgear, the two boxers shook hands and went to the opposing corners and shook the coaches hands. The ring announcer grabbed his mic and proceeded to announce the winner: “And in the Blue corner, from Alberta…”
Well, it was a great experience. We learned a lot. We also know that we are not far off from getting some big wins in the Nationals after this experience. I have too, as I have not only one, but a few excellent young boxers. I know in Reyes case, he will be back for more, along with a few other boxing teammates from Clubb Canada & the MMA World Academy!
This story will be continued.
But man, it’s good to be back at The Crossfire.