Most of them have had just one amateur fight, but they’re itching for more.
What they lack in experience, Vernon’s entries in the Bronze Gloves boxing tournament will make up for with enthusiasm as they battle in front of a home crowd tonight at the Recreation Complex.
The two-day event, hosted by Vernon’s CounterPunch Boxing Club, is for fighters with less than 10 bouts, but the card will also feature an elite competition, including Canadian and Commonwealth champions.
Vernon has five entries from its two clubs competing in a field of more than 80. Joe Sigalet (heavyweight), Darrien Boorsma (light welterweight) and 11-year-old Steven Schols (Junior A) will represent the Vernon Boxing Club.
Tony Stamboulieh’s CounterPunch Club has two fighters entered – Usman Raza, a welterweight, and Jordan Johnson, a light welterweight.
Sigalet, 25, has been training since age 16, but only had his first bout at a recent card in North Vancouver. He admits to getting pulled into the party lifestyle, but adds boxing has helped him stay grounded.
“It’s nice to be on the other side for once and just have a clear head,” said Sigalet, who trains five times a week.
“I enjoy looking in shape, I enjoy being in shape. I feel I speak better and look better when I’m doing it. There’s lots of benefit to it.”
Sigalet likes to fight with “swag” in the ring, and prefers to pick his shots rather than get into an all-out brawl. His go-to punch is the overhand right.
“I want to be flawless; I don’t like being hit too much,” he said.
Vernon Boxing Club head coach Brian Jones says the Bronze Gloves is an ideal venue for developing fighters.
“Last two years, it’s picked up,” he said. “We’ve got a dozen guys registered to fight and six guys ready to fight.”
Jones holds a lot of respect for boxers who are starting out and willing to test their mettle in the ring.
“It’s scary for a lot of people, especially in your hometown, first time ever. You’ve gotta have guts.”
Raza, 20, has only been training at CounterPunch for one year but already has one amateur bout to his credit.
“I wanted something that would keep me going after high school and now I’ve fallen in love with this sport,” said Raza, a self-professed counter puncher.
“I haven’t had a sport more vigorous than boxing. I played all sorts of sports in high school, but the training in boxing is something else.”
At the other end of the spectrum, Johnson, a slugger, brings a lunch-pail mentality to the ring. He’s not exactly a Picasso in the ring, but rather a work in progress.
“I ain’t no natural; that’s what I’ve learnt over the years,” smiled Johnson. “I’m not much for the finesse, I’m not much of a point scorer, so I’m a little worried about that. Hopefully I’ll remember what Tony taught me – more movement and speed up a little – and hopefully my power will be enough to take the guy down.”
Johnson’s philosophy on boxing is a simple one:
“It’s all effort. Like a bank – you get out what you put in.”
The Elite division will feature Mission’s Jesse Brown, who was a welterweight silver medallist at the Commonwealth Games, Kenny Lally, the Canadian men’s flyweight champion and Jag Seehra, both of Prince George.
Doors open each night at 6:00, with action slated for 7:00. Admission is a bargain at $10.