Nelson has its first Golden Gloves boxing champions in many decades. Jaden Bennett, 15, and Elias Martinez, 11, both won their division at the provincial Golden Gloves Tournament in North Vancouver this past weekend. The Golden Gloves has been one of the most important tournaments in Canadian amateur boxing since its inception in 1939.
Jaden Bennett, 15, during his winning match. Eye of the Mind Photography
“This is a pretty big deal for our local boxers,” said Nelson Boxing Club coach Jesse Pineiro. “They conducted themselves with sportsmanship and integrity at all times, and showed a huge amount of heart in the tough moments.”
In the 60 kg final, Bennett won a hard-fought decision against Jackson Smith, 14, of Maple Ridge Boxing Club. “The bout was one of the best of the night,” said Pineiro. “Jaden started fast with great movement and combination punching.”
Smith fought back in the second, but Jaden rallied in the third driving Smith across the ring with hard lefts and rights to cement the victory.
The next night Bennett fought a match outside of the tournament with Connor Lowry, 15, from South Side Boxing Club in Edmonton.
He didn’t win, but represented Nelson well.
“Despite an experience advantage for the fighter from Alberta, and an injury to his left shoulder sustained in his championship match, Jaden showed tremendous courage and skill as well as defensive movement,” said Pineiro. “His bravery and talent were commented on by his opponent and the referee.”
Although Martinez won the Golden Gloves in a walk-over (there were no other 11-year-olds in his weight division), he took an exhibition match with Jackson Smith, 14, on Saturday. Martinez dominated in spite of Smith being close to a foot taller, three years older and more experienced.
Nelson Boxing Club athlete Elias Martinez, 11, dominated an opponent three years older than him in an exhibition match at the Golden Gloves tournament. Eye of the Mind Photography.
“Elias fought a great fight,” said his coach. “He slipped Smith’s straight punches and pounded him to the body and head for all three rounds.”
Pineiro said boxing is a difficult sport which requires a great deal of bravery and dedication.
“It also brings out the best in its practitioners,” he said. “It is really nice to see the progress that these two young men are making, not only as boxers, but as human beings,” said Pineiro. “They are truly great kids.”
Eleven-year-old boxer Elias Martinez. Eye of the Mind Photography