Article by Raphaël Guillemette via Radio-Canada | Published on June 17, 2020 | Translated from French

Boxing Gyms Struggling to Reopen in Ontario

Two women fight in a boxing match.

Mandy Bujold (in blue) was able to resume training in a Kitchener boxing gym that opened last week. PHOTO: COURTESY OF BOXING CANADA – VIRGIL BARROW

About 20 boxing gyms [update: now 57] have been given the green light to reopen, but club owners in Ontario are struggling to maintain their viability due to public health guidelines.

In Ontario, clubs must follow strict health protocols to reopen, but that’s not all. Clubs can only offer private training or in very small groups. They must also be sanctioned by the provincial federation, in addition to having coaches certified by Boxing Ontario .

For many clubs, these restrictions are problematic. The federation already sanctions only 150 boxing gyms across the province of Ontario. The rest have to wait for public health and provincial government approval.

As of June 17, 25 boxing gyms have received the necessary authorizations to resume their activities in Ontario.

“With the health protocols that we currently have and the restrictions that the government has imposed in the first phase of recovery, and even in the second, we are fighting like crazy!” says Boxing Ontario President Jennifer Huggins. It concedes that reopening is not possible for everyone.

The boxing clubs can accommodate a maximum of ten people at a time, which is not enough to ensure payment of bills and rent, for example, not to mention employee fees.

“All the gym owners I have spoken to have difficulty covering their rent,” notes Huggins, who owns Kingsway Boxing Club , a boxing gym in Etobicoke. It opened on June 15.

“In a way, reopening now is more expensive than staying closed.”

“Overall, as an industry, we’ve always been proud to be there for our athletes…but right now, it’s hard to be there for ourselves,” she adds.

Boxing Ontario secretary Fred Ten Eyck said four more gyms should get the green light by the end of the week. “A dozen by the end of the month,” he notes.

“When the government decides to increase the number of people admitted to a space to 20 or 25 at the same time, we will see the majority of our clubs embarking on reopening protocols,” says Ten Eyck.

“With the restrictions and the number of active cases at the moment, some clubs consider that it is not advisable for them.”

A blessing for athletes

A referee raises the arm of a boxer as a sign of triumph at the end of a fight.

Mandy Bujold, from Kitchener, represented Canada at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES / AFP / YURI CORTEZ

Kitchener-born boxer Mandy Bujold welcomed the news of the reopening of a few boxing gyms in Ontario. For top female boxers like her, this allowed her to resume training in person with her trainer, Syd Vanderpool.

“It changes a lot because even if I train in my basement, it’s not the same as having a trainer near you who can analyze your every move,” says Bujold, who stepped foot in the gym last week.”Technique is very important in boxing. A long break can change a lot.”

And when you contemplate participating in the Olympic Games, these little details can make all the difference.

“A punching bag does not move. You have to be creative and make scenarios in your head,” adds Bujold, who represented Canada at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The Ontario pugilist believes that she may have to train by December without facing anyone. In America, the Olympic trials are scheduled for February or March 2021, “and it will be necessary to have a few fights before that otherwise it will not make sense,” she notes.

“I got too involved and made too many sacrifices to stop here,” Bujold concluded.

This means that for everyone involved directly or indirectly in the boxing community in Ontario, the fight continues.

Original article available here.