The Maple Ridge Boxing Club is celebrating a national championship.
Sabri Faruk won three matches and took the Canadian title in the elite 81-kg class over the weekend at Bear Mountain Resort in Victoria.
Faruk outclassed his opponent in the final, winning by unanimous decision.
“He fought very well. He just outboxed him – an Ontario favourite to win gold,” said Faruk’s coach, Jason Burke.
Faruk also defeated two top Quebec fighters over the weekend, surprising many in the fight game from eastern Canada.
“He’s a great boxer,’ said Burke. “Sometimes he gets caught up in the toe-to-toe, but this time he boxed through the whole tournament.
He said Faruk has great hand speed and footwork.
“He’s still learning, and he learned a lot at this tournament.”
He is the first member of the Maple Ridge club to win a Canadian championship in the elite class. Rick Funk, who has been coaching at the club, won a national title as a junior, and Bruce Carrington, who was internationally ranked, won national silver.
Faruk has been training with the storied club for the past three years. He has twice before won national bronze, and was determined to take that next step.
“He was in the gym every day, and training on weekends, and I’ve never seen anyone more focused than him,” said Burke.
Billy Druet also coaches the champion fighter.
Faruk will next fly to Montreal on May 9 for fitness and other evaluations, and may move to Montreal in order to be able to train with Team Canada. International fights will be his next step, and his goal is to get to the Olympics and then turn professional.
Two other Maple Ridge fighters also qualified for the nationals. Brennan Demas, in the elite 69 kg class, lost by decision, and Ely Avelar, in the elite 56 kg class, also lost by decision. Avelar was tops in B.C. in his class, and Demas was second.
Brad Scott, another organizer at the club, said the Canadian title is a good sign that the club that was the late John Skank’s labour of love for so many year is still going strong.
“The club is doing really well, and now we’ve got a Canadian champion.”
The Maple Ridge club floundered after the death of Skanks, but many of his former fighters came back to coach and save the club. It runs as a non-profit group out of the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre.
“We are all volunteers, we all fought for Maple Ridge, and we like to give back,” said Burke. “And it’s great when we get rewarded with a gold medal.”