To all my friends at Boxing Ontario:

Every coach has a thousand stories and I’d like to share a few of mine as I ride the biggest high in my young coaching career. In March 2001, I opened Big Tyme Boxing in Orangeville. I have met some great kids over the past five years and I’d like to tell you about a few of them:

I remember the first day Steve Franjic walked into the gym. He was short and pudgy. He didn’t say much but his dad assured me that Steve would be champ. Steve began training daily. With time, and incredibly hard work, he has transformed into a tall, lean, toned fighter. Steve has hardly missed a day of training in five years and has developed into a devastating body puncher with incredible stamina. As a coach I sometimes have to kick Steve out of the gym or insist on him taking time off. Steve is the most coachable boxer I have and listens to instructions well. Steve still doesn’t say much but insists he lets his fists do the talking.

Padraic Griffin’s parents brought him to the gym in hopes of balancing his obsession with straight A’s in school, with a new sports interest. Padraic was shy, short, and a little overweight, not exactly what you look for in a future boxing prospect. In Padraic’s first match I threw in the towel in the first minute of the first round. I remember telling him that today was not his day. After losing three fights in a row, my only goal, as his coach, was to get him one win. That win came in his fourth bout and he’s been a man on a mission ever since. Padraic is Big Tyme Boxing’s Cinderella Man and I’ve nicknamed him The Giant Killer. In my 20 years as a member of Boxing Ontario I’ve never seen a kid with a bigger heart. He’s inspiring to all my young boxers and has shown everyone that the will to win is sometimes more important than ability.

Which brings me to Logan Cotton. One day Logan tagged along to the gym with his older brother to give boxing a try. I recognized his natural talent instantly. After five minutes working on the focus pads with Logan I told his brother that Logan would definitely make a good fighter. His brother insisted that he was far too timid and lazy to make it in boxing. After Logan’s first match I knew he’d be a champion. As is the case with many naturally talented boxers, Logan has always been hard to motivate. After two trips to the national championships and two silver medals I was confused and looking hard for a way to motivate this talented but lazy kid with the world at his doorstep. He just needed to make a little extra effort.

About that time a pretty blonde young lady named Robyn Starr walked through the doors to join the Big Tyme Boxing team. She quickly won a nation female title. Suddenly, Logan had perfect daily attendance, and a starry-eyed reason to train. The results have shown in his boxing in the last year!

Ali Mullins came to Big Tyme simply looking for six pack abs and a great full body workout. After about three months of training with the Big Tyme boxing program and doing thousands of crunches Ali still had no interest in being a boxer. One day I asked her if she’d like to spar, and without hesitation, she said yes. I recognized some talent in her sparring sessions and asked her if she would like to compete. The thought was an easy sell to Ali but a difficult sell to her mother. To date Ali has only had six bouts but is developing into an excellent little boxer and even better human being.

These four boxers represented Ontario at the Canadian Boxing Championships in St. Hyacinth, Quebec, this past week-end, January 26 – 29. All four won national junior championships.

With pride, I watched:

-a favourite dominate

-a natural push himself to victory,

-and an underdog accomplish the impossible.

As I drove home from Quebec, still feeling exhilarated from the championship results, I thought about the impact of coaches on young boxers, and how my coach influenced me. I hoped that I am half the role model to my boxers that my coach, Dewith Frazer, was, and continues to be, to me. I believe boxing is a sport that makes men out of boys and these young champions are well on their way to a bright future.

The four boxers have made me the proudest coach in the world and I love them like they were my children.

Thank you, guys, for being “special.”