The Maple Ridge Boxing Club is on an upswing reminiscent of a Mike Tyson uppercut.
The club has been celebrating outstanding performances by three fighters at the Tournament of Champions event in Abbotsford.
Niall Roberts, who has been dubbed “The A-Niall-ator” by his coaches, won his fight in the elite novice 132-pound category, and then was judged the best novice fighter, and his fight was chosen best bout.
“He went toe-to-toe, and it was a split decision that went down to the last seconds of the fight,” said coach Jason Burke. “He’s got lots of potential.”
Roberts is a novice – which means he has had less than 10 fights. The 18-year-old Garibaldi secondary graduate has been boxing for three years, and competitively for one.
He jumped into the team end – his first fight was against a Team B.C. boxer, and the next was an opponent who outweighed him by 16 pounds.
He lost both of those fights, but has since won the next four.
“It’s been good,” he said of his career as a novice. “It is scary at first, but the more I do it, the easier it gets.”
Sabri Faruk, 22, won his fight in the elite open 178-pound class, and was chosen as the best elite open fighter of the night.
Faruk said the had to cut seven pounds in four days to make the weight, but after a lot of time in the steam room he could still bring the heat in the ring. And he doesn’t mind saying he has big ambition.
“My goal is to make it as a world-class boxer,” he said.
He took bronze at the national championships on his first trip to the big dance.
“It was a learning experience, and I know what to do next year,” he said, and he will be back in 2018.
He is a talented boxer who recently joined the Ridge club from Queensborough Boxing Club in New Westminster.
“I love the energy here, and the people really care for their fighters,” he said of his new home club.
Brennan Demas won his fight, which was the main event. In the the elite open 152 -pound class, he beat Garnet Samuel of Surrey.
Burke explained that Demas, 24, was ahead in the fight, but had been hit with several low blows. On about the fifth or sixth low shot, and with little time left in the last of three three-minute rounds, his opponent was disqualified by the referee.
The trio were also chosen as the best team at the tournament, out of 30 that were represented.
The club will have three members of Team B.C. this year, in Faruk, Demas and Ely Martinez. They will fight with Team B.C. at the national championships in Edmonton in March.
With all of their fighters winning and taking major awards, the club’s coaches are feeling good about the future.
“The club has just been flourishing,” said Burke, noting there is almost not enough room in the little boxing gym at the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre.
He said the club gets not just serious fighters, but also families and an increasing number of girls who want to come for the workout.
“Maple Ridge has always been known for putting out good boxers,” said coach Brad Scott. “Our fighters are strong, they have integrity and they’re committed.”