Becancour, Que., to host world boxing academy



Canada finally received some good news of the national boxing front. On Monday, the International Boxing Association chose Becancour, Que., to host the sport’s first world academy.

“I think its excellent news for Quebec and for Canada, everyone is very exciting,” Kenneth Piche, technical director of Quebec’s amateur boxing federation, told The Canadian Press.

Becancour, a city of about 12,000 across the St. Lawrence river from Trois-Rivieres, Que., beat Podolsk, Russia, 18-10 in a secret ballot of members of the world governing body’s executive committee in Beijing.

The academy will train the best young amateur boxers and coaches from the 195 national federations that make up AIBA. Referees, judges and boxing administrators will also study there.

“It’s going to be enormous, not just for training but for the political connections as well,” says Piche. “It will help the credibility of Canada when the Canadian boxers are better known (to international judges) and it’s going to get us better results.”

Some fighters will stay full-time, including 50 resident students on International Olympic Committee scholarships, while others will come in for shorter stays to attend training camps or workshops. Around 750 fighters aged from 17 to 34 will be trained each year at Becancour and educated in fitness, nutrition and anti-doping classes.

“We now have taken a significant step in a project which will lift the standards across all areas of boxing,” AIBA president Ching-Kuo Wu said.

Podolsk, located near Moscow, will host a second academy if the first is a success.

The news comes at a time when Canadian boxing could really use a boost. Adam Trupish, Canada’s lone boxing entry at the Beijing Games, was knocked on his back just seconds into his opening bout.

The country that sent a total of 53 boxers to the last six Olympics qualified just one for these Games. And the country that produced medalists Lennox Lewis, Willie de Wit, Shawn O’Sullivan, Egerton Marcus, Mark Leduc, Dale Walters, Ray Downey and David Defiagbon was out after one bout in Beijing.

Piche says the national team program has been gutted by cutbacks in government funding, which has led to fewer chances to travel to competitions, something the academy could help with.

“In the last couple of years, (Canadian boxing) has been a disaster,” says Piche. We’re going to see a huge improvement with the best coaches in the world coming here. Trupish didn’t have access to all of that is going to be available at the academy.”

The academy, which has not been built, is expected to be ready around late 2010, says Piche. It will operate on an annual budget of more than $5 million managed by the world body and Canada’s national Olympic committee.

The project was promoted by AIBA president Wu after he was elected in 2006. The Taiwanese promised to modernize and clean up amateur boxing.