Walking into the Sooke Boxing Club, located in a tiny outlet mall in the centre of Sooke, you get a strong sense of energyand ambition – from the thrust and impact of every fist striking sandbags and grunts of effort echoing throughout, there’sno doubt this place is special.
The club is also home to this week’s B.C. Boxing training camp – a first-ever for Sooke – where athletes from across theprovince come to prepare five weeks ahead of the national championships at the Sooke Community Hall. The groups consistof junior, youth and senior candidates of various experience levels, all of whom help each other out.
“It’s one of the best teams we’ve ever put forward,” said Bob Pegues, a provincial team coach for Boxing B.C. of some 30years. “We have nicemix of seasoned veterans who’ve been to the nationals before, out of our 24 going, 10 have beenthere before, so it’s a good base to anchor to for the new kids.”
One of the focus this year is bringing the club’s young female boxers into a much bigger world of boxing, as female boxingis picking up exponentionally across North America.
“The medals might not be golds this year, but they’ll have a look at what competition looks like, being in an event with 300people, best in the country, so next year when they go back, they’ll rock it,” Pegues said. “That’s what we’re doing, we’replanting some seeds this year, preparing them for thebigger game.”
Good training starts with bringing an athlete’s confidence up, slowly, and carefully. Such is the case of Boxing B.C.’s“challenged matches” that starts at age six, which during the first 10 matches, both sides win.
“That’s been great, it’s big for our kids, because it encourages them. Add to that, being careful as coaches and club ownersto bring them along so it is a positive experience and not the old thing you see on boxing where everyone’s bashing eachother around,” Pegues said.
SookeBoxingClub has certainly captured provincial attention when it comes to boxing, simply by way of its offerings todiscovering the world of boxing.
“Sooke, more than any other community in B.C. right now has brought back amateur boxing… they have a training camp,they have an amazing show, they have an all-female training camp,” said Ryan O’Shea, Boxing B.C. president, adding thesetraining camps make a huge difference for everyone.
“What Sooke is providing us is a space to have a week where these athletes, who compete against each other, get to becometeam mates,” he said.
For club owner Ellen Connor, this provincial boxing training camp is the first of many more in Sooke.
“It’s very exciting, and these guys come from all over the province, some have never even seen the Island before,” she said,adding an all-female boxing training camp will take place in Sooke at the end of July, beginning of August.
Connor also highlighted that the Sooke Boxing Club community has been “well received” by the Sooke community, such asthe Sooke Community Association providing the Community Hall and SEAPARC offering its showers for free.