Ten male champions were crowned last week in Cape Breton Isle during the 2012 Canadian Nationals. Seven of them were returning winners. On Saturday, January 14th, to a full house at the Convention Center ringside, legendary Larry Holmes amused audience and boxers before the bouts with a motivational speech about his life.
"Let your kids box. Let your kids go to the gym. I just wanted to box, I had no idea that I would become the Heavyweight Champion of the World. Chase your dreams", said Holmes to the hundreds who went to cheer for their favorites.
Pat Fiacco, Boxing Canada president said at the end of the 2012 Elite championships, that it had been the most competitive event they had had for years.
"As a result, we have gone from an inexperienced team, to a team with good international experience. And our future looks very bright," said Fiacco who has been involved in boxing for more than 30 years.
Boxing Canada wanted to be as fair as possible and during the draw, they made sure that the number one and two boxers ranked nationally were in separate brackets. The computer system randomly put the other boxers, giving the opportunity to all of the 95 male participants a chance to make it go to the finals. But in seven of the ten-weigh classes the boxer ranked one was the eventual winner.
One of the highlights of the tournament was the quality of the competition that opens expectations for better results and a bright future. Another is to have a young team that can go for a long time, like the case of 18 year-old new national champion in the 56 kg Rodolfo Velasquez from Ontario.
His coach Vinny Ryan commented that it's a great satisfaction to see how from a small little boy at the age of 11, skinny and not very strong, today seven years later, he has a national champion in Velasquez.
"I remember the day he walked into the gym for the first time, nobody could say that years later he will be in the national elite team and with the option to go to the Olympics," said Vinny.
Velasquez has seldom left the gym since he began and in 2009, he won his first junior national. For last week's tournament, he was training twice a day, watching his diet, put on hold his college semester and dedicated 24 hours a day to training and sleeping. No going out with friends, clubbing or girls.
"I don't have a girlfriend, they distract you from boxing." Said Velasquez, who assures that he boxes not only for himself but also for his coach, his club, and his supportive parents, both from El Salvador.
Another young promise of boxing Canada is 20-year-old Brody Blair, from Nova Scotia. He repeats his championship in the 75 Kg, is a Pan American bronze medalist and was named the Canadian Amateur Boxer of the Year.
Blair is one of those boxers whose print stays in the heart of aficionados. During the two Pan American Games qualifiers in Venezuela and Ecuador, he conquered many fans because of his skills, intelligence and boxing style. It isn't a big surprise he retained his championship on his quest to the Olympics.
"I will have to spend long days at the gym and also focus on my mental preparation, meditating, watching videos of my bouts and analyzing what I need to improve", said Blair.
Blair has a lot of work ahead in Brazil this May to gain his Olympic spot, but he is 100% confident he will get there.
Velasquez, on the other hand, will have the Canadian Box-offs at the beginning of March, and if he wins, he will go to Brazil in May.
Velasquez and Blair are two very young boxers with a long and bright future.
The other 2012 Canadian champions are:
49kg - Jonathan Quinit (Manitoba) 21 year old, new champion
52kg - Kenny Lally (British Columbia) 22 year old, returning champion
60kg - Alex Rynn (Alberta) 25 year old, returning champion
64kg - Yves Ulysse (Quebec) 23 year old, returning champion
69kg - Custio Clayton (Nova Scotia) 24 year old, returning champion
81kg - Jonathan Savard (Quebec) 26 year old, returning champion
91kg - Samir El Mais (Ontario) 31 year old, returning champion
+91kg - Kevin Champagne (Quebec) 26 year old, new champion
Copyright © Raquel Ruiz