It’s time for Feature Friday, where we share the stories about the incredible people in the Boxing Ontario community, and this week’s feature is Steven Willett, owner of Willett Boxing Club in Hawkesbury.

How did you first get involved in boxing?

SW: I took interest in boxing as a kid. I remember watching the old fights on TV and getting so excited. I remember thinking one day I could do that. I was always athletic as a kid, so when I started boxing it came naturally. I only began really taking it seriously in my teenage years. I loved the personal challenge, the technical and tactical skill, the grind. It quickly became my life. I dabbled in other martial arts too, but something about the rawness of boxing always spoke to me. In my opinion it is the purest form of competition and the ultimate test of will and skill.

What or who first inspired you to become a club owner?

SW: I always wanted to have my own club. Sharing my passion with the next generation and helping develop not only better boxers and athletes, but doing our part to help build better human beings. I wanted to create a legacy I could pass on to my children. Boxing can build confidence, character and so much more. It’s about so much more than fighting. It gives people hope, and becomes an escape for many people including myself. The ring was always a place I could feel safe and free.

Tell us about your progression in the sport.

SW: I have competed as a boxer, I have been an official, and as a coach and club owner my goal is not only to develop high-level athletes, but also to help people reach their goals. We also own a gym and a dance studio. It’s all about empowering people, bringing out the best in them and making them feel great about themselves. Every time I put on a pair of gloves or focus mitts, I still get the same thrill as the first time. I want to now share that love and passion with as many people as possible and make an impact in our community.

What/who motivates you as a club owner?

SW: I don’t think any coach at any level gets into this game to become rich. Many clubs don’t make a big revenue; they do what they do because they want to help people, and because they love it. For myself, I decided I would rather spend my life doing something that has meaning and substance, something I could be proud of. I wanted to be able to give back to the community and help young people reach their potential. What motivates me is being the best that I can every day: being a good example to others, and most importantly to my children. I want to show them that they can do and be anything they want if they work hard, follow their passion and their dream, and pursue it relentlessly.

What has been your biggest challenge as a club owner?

SW: COVID has certainly been a challenge. But despite the obstacles we have faced, we manage to run classes online and keep our squad motivated and in shape. We certainly are looking forward to reopening the doors properly, so we can get back to sparring and building our competitive athletes.

What is your biggest achievement in the sport?

SW: My biggest achievement has been taking a handful of aspiring boxers with zero experience and turning them into winners. Seeing the look on their faces and the excitement of getting their hands raised after putting in so much effort is priceless – seeing them celebrate with their parents and friends. Of course, you can’t win them all, but watching my athletes learn how to win and lose with grace and dignity is part of life. It’s been an amazing ride, and we’re just getting started.

What are your goals in the sport?

SW: My goal is to build champions. We have several young boxers that are aspiring to compete at major tournaments once competition is back, and ultimately, I would love to have a few national champions here. Wining isn’t everything, but I think every coach/owner/athlete wants to be a champion. I would love to have one of our kids make it to the Olympics, or even bring home a world title one day.

What else would you like to share about yourself?

SW: I am a father of four wonderful children, and run the club with the support of my loving wife, Amie, who has been by my side through this entire journey. I am truly blessed to be able to get up every morning and do what I love to do, with the best people in the world! Life is good.