An open letter to my sons about my boxing journey:
Dear Ayden and Kian,
Yes…as Kian said, “daddy punched a guy” on Saturday. But what I hope you will understand is that the experience of boxing is so much more than punching a guy. In the three years I’ve been boxing, I’ve come to learn a lot about myself through the sport and through the people I’ve encountered on the boxing path along the way (opponents, coaches, teammates, etc). I’ve learned that boxing is about overcoming challenges, both physically and mentally. You don’t compete against the person in the other corner who’s throwing punches at you. You compete against yourself. You train and push your body to limits you don’t realize you can surpass until you reach that threshold and you make the choice (and tell your body) to keep going.
And yes, if you’re competing, your ultimate goal is to defeat (or even knockout) the person in the opposite corner. But at the end of the fight, you will always go up to that person, shake their hand, high five them or even hug them and congratulate them on a match well-fought because despite the fact that this person’s goal was to punch you, they are in the same boat as you. They have trained as hard as they could train. They have challenged themselves mentally and physically. And they had the courage to see their training through to fight night, step into that ring and square off against an opponent. By fight night, you both are champions before the first punch is even thrown out.
At this point in my so-called “career”, I’ve experienced a loss, a draw and most recently a win. I can tell that your mom can’t stomach me participating in another competitive bout (she was a nervous wreck on Saturday) so for the time being, I’ll be hanging up the competition gloves. I’ll still continue boxing and sparring for sport (I don’t think I could ever stop now) but for the time being, I don’t see myself competing. Perhaps, I’ll set a goal for myself to step back into the ring the year that I turn 40. That’ll give your mother some time to settle her nerves from this past Saturday and I find it hard to not have a goal. Hopefully, seven years from now, Fight 4 The Cause will still be going strong – raising a ton of money for the community and generating skilled amateur boxers from Victoria.
In the three years I’ve been doing this, I’ve made no effort to hide from you that I participate and compete in a combat sport. I’ve let you watch videos of my previous fights, you’ve seen me train a few times and Ayden has even generated his own interest in boxing, himself. I believe there is so much more to combat sports than the violence. And the reason I’ve kept this part of my world open to you is to give you an early taste of what it’s like to find something that can reward you as much as it challenges you. I’m looking forward to the day you find your thing. And whether that thing is a combat sport, a ball sport, or even dance or musical theatre, you can bet that I will be there to support you on your path.
A re-cap of last Saturday night from my corner:
What a night it was this past Saturday! I’ll give you the Cole’s notes version of this re-cap. My fight finished a little sooner than I thought it would. I won in the first round by TKO (technical knockout). Basically, in an amateur fight, if the ref needs to give a fighter a standing eight count twice in one round the fight will be over. From the way I understand it, in a points-based fight, after two eight counts in one round there is no mathematical way to come back so the fight will be stopped. This is also in an effort to protect both fighters from sustaining any more damage. Here, you can have a look at the fight yourself from two different angles.
The first is courtesy of my friend and fellow pugilist, Carlos MacDonald
The second is from our Facebook Live feed which was shot by Christopher “Cuervo” Loran (with hilariously awesome commentary from Dylan Willows)
My opponent’s name is Bobby Bridger, he’s the chef at the Cactus Club. If you’re ever there for lunch or dinner, have your server go into the kitchen and pass along a pat on the back to Bobby as he’s one of the most genuinely nice and humble guys I’ve ever had the honour of punching in the gut! He put up a hell of a fight in the beginning too (even landed a number of mack truck-force shots on my face) which is why I felt I needed to go to the body…I needed to stop him in his tracks in order to further protect my radio face.
There are a LOT of people that I owe a great debt of gratitude towards. Fight 4 The Cause was the catalyst for me to learn a lot about myself through the sport of boxing and I can’t thank Kevin Brett and Darcy Dommett (from Studio 4 Athletics) enough for putting on such an incredible event. I mentioned in my letter that it’s the people I’ve encountered on my boxing path that have helped shape the person I am today. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from every one of them. My previous opponents (Jerry Hughes, Dan “Batman” Lucia, what would’ve been Kenny “Speedyshoes” Husband but then switched to Bobby) have taught me that you really don’t need to hate the person you’re going in the ring to punch. And through them, I’m able to teach my sons a great deal about sportsmanship and what it means to compete (whether the outcome results in a win, loss or draw).
Over the last three years, I’ve had many coaches and mentors that have all taught me something different about myself and my abilities. My coach this year, Baylea Wilkins, is a personal friend and the badass of all badasses. She can switch back and forth from hardcore trainer to caring mom-type coach in a heartbeat and this year, thanks to her and my mentor, Bryan Colwell, I had a hell of a time finding out what I was made of! My coach from my second fight (who is also the blue team coach), Dean Kerpan, really taught me a lot about the emotional experience that is getting in the ring. I felt like I was able to approach this year with a certain level of focus. I was better able to “hang-up the husband/father gloves” when I went into training and stepped into the ring and “lace up the warrior gloves”. I’ve also had incredible support throughout the years from previous coaches such as Michael Poole, Hal Kreisel of Forge Training Gym, Cassius Segikwiye of Merge Combat and Fitness, Kevin Ogborne from Studio 4 Athletics and other fellow fighters such as Jake, Aaron and Gabrielle Varga, James Sebunyana, Didier Vincent (and many more that I’m sure I’m forgetting).
This year, I had the pleasure (and luxury) of an incredible sponsor. Atlas Health Therapy sponsored me as a fighter and even took care of me throughout my training camp. It made the experience incredibly rewarding and helped my body recover after some of the most grueling training sessions I’ve ever been through. Thanks so much to Tamara and the whole team at Atlas for being amazing!
And finally, I’d be incredibly remiss in not mentioning the support of my wonderful family – especially my beautiful wife, Elissa. She practically put her life on hold – getting up early, making breakfast, packing a lunch and getting our oldest ready for school – so that I can commit to early morning training sessions. She sat ringside for all of my fights and even though it causes her heart palpitations, she’s been so supportive over my amateur boxing journey. I love her so very much and I’m incredibly lucky to have her.
A few thoughts on Jenny West:
I don’t want to get into re-capping Jenny’s fight too much as I’d love for you to read about her experience in her own words. But I will say this. Jenny and Angela’s fight was without a doubt in my mind, the fight of the night. I was SO proud of both of them (Angela as my teammate who progressed at an incredible rate during this training camp and Jenny who is my radio lil sis and worked incredibly hard over the past several months to learn the sport and develop her skills).
Jenny’s fight didn’t end in her favour but before she even stepped through the ropes of that squared circle, she was already a champ. I’m so happy and proud that she saw this thing through and I’m honoured to have been there from the moment she threw her very first punch earlier this year to the moment she stepped out of the ring. And I admit, I was gettin’ a bit teary for her watching from her corner!
If our journey this year has inspired you in the least bit, I definitely encourage you to give this a try. Fight 4 The Cause is an amazing experience and a great way to get in shape and challenge yourself. You could be like one of these 25 other amazing contenders:
Entrance videos produced by Lee & Ria Milliken of Jesse Hlady Studios (mine is at 6:28).
Contact the folks at Studio 4 Athletics if you would ever like to try out a contender bootcamp class. It’s definitely worth a shot! –Boitano