What a great opportunity to share my story with you all, my journey of boxing and health and how it changed my life. Before boxing I was an overweight, unhealthy middle-aged man, focusing on my two kids and my family. I was working full time as a support worker to the elderly for 16 years in long-term care, making my priority my family and my residents and not having enough energy for myself at the end of the day.

Our son decided to join a local boxing gym in my hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario called Leading Edge. As our son starting getting in shape, I became fascinated with the sport. Having played a little bit on a heavy bag before I got married, this brought back my interest in something I had forgotten that I enjoyed. I then decided to make the leap and asked the owner if older individuals could join. His response was, “Absolutely!”

In the beginning, I would walk through the doors and try to stand tall and make believe I was a UFC fighter, showing some swagger to the owner Matt Richer. I was trying to act like I truly knew the sport and knew what I was doing, when what I really needed to do was learn the fundamentals and practice them.

As months went on and I gained a grasp of the sport, I decided to get registered as an amateur Masters and compete. I had lost about 80lbs and felt the healthiest I had in a long time. This also gave me confidence in my ability to fight. I had never stepped foot in a ring, and here I had my first chance. One of my coaches set up a fight across the border at a local club show. Little did I know I was in the main event—scared, nervous, and excited—but I knew I needed to take this first step and face the fear head on if I wanted to continue competing as an amateur.

This first fight was tough. I lost the fight, but it was a great learning experience. What I learned after my first fight was to face fear head on and not be scared to take an opportunity and to just go with it, no matter the outcome. After the first fight, I devoted more time to training and gaining as much knowledge and skill as possible from my coaches, and continued to devote my time to becoming a better boxer. I truly began to understand the complexities of the sport.

This is my third year as a boxer, and I had the opportunity to compete at the Brampton Cup 2020. This was all new to me so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I booked my flights to come home early, not thinking I would get anywhere in the tournament, and of course, I won my first bout, competed in my second bout and won again. I made it to the gold medal match and couldn’t fight because my flight couldn’t be changed. What I learned from this experience was to book flights home later on in the tournament, and to commit, be dedicated, sacrifice, have discipline, and never give up on yourself.

I now have so much passion for this sport, and I want to share it with others. My future goals are to get certified as judge/referee and boxing coach. This will allow me to share what I have learned from this amazing sport of boxing. It truly is for all ages, young and old. My ultimate goal is to become a certified boxing coach and train boxers with disabilities. It would be cool to share such a gift with those who think they can’t…when yes, you can!