Boxing is back with a bang in St. Albert.
The first fight card since the 1994 Alberta Winter Games is The Home Opener for the St. Albert Boxing Academy on Sunday in the Sir George Simpson School gym.
The doors open at 11 a.m. and the first bout is noon. Admission is $10.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” said head coach Brad Hortie. “There will be about 12 fights and door prizes as well.
“I’m hoping for about 200 (people) and I think that’s realistic.”
The boxers range from “nine to junior-high kids and a couple of super heavyweights,” Hortie said. “There’s really good novices, two female bouts and a couple of open fights with high level guys.”
The punchers hail from clubs in Edmonton, Calgary, Drayton Valley, Fort McMurray, Nanaimo and the territories.
“We’ve had a great response,” Hortie said.
Justin MacDonald is a St. Albert boxer who will trade leather in his first bout after several sparring sessions.
“It’s definitely intimidating the first time. I don’t think anybody goes into the ring to fight without being somewhat sort of scared or having their doubts,” said the Grade 11 Bellerose Composite High School student.
The game plan for MacDonald is “just try and knock him out” in the three-rounder.
“It should be exciting. I want to get in there and try it out and see what I’ve got,” said MacDonald, who will be paired against a competitor in his 173-pound weight range.
MacDonald, 16, was interested in the sweet science and the St. Albert Boxing Academy is his second club.
“It’s something I’ve had in the back of my mind for a couple of years now. It’s kind of a different sport. You don’t see to many kids doing it these days,” said MacDonald, who trains Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, in addition to strength and cardio workouts. “You can’t really rely on anybody else. If you lose it’s your fault. You can’t blame it on anybody else but you.
“It’s a also a real physical sport which kind of appeals to me.”
The non-profit St. Albert Boxing Academy is based in the Simpson lunchroom but is not related to the Simpson school or the school district.
The weekday training sessions are 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for individuals of all ages, genders and fitness levels.
“We transformed this lunchroom into a gym. I come in about an hour before every workout and slide all the tables out of the way,” said Hortie, the son of the late Paul Hortie, the 1991 Alberta Sports Hall of Fame inductee as a coach and builder in boxing.
Hortie, a certified NCCP level four coach who is registered with the Alberta Amateur Boxing Association, is a newcomer to St. Albert and sought out Pierre Rousseau, the principal at Simpson who is well known in local boxing circles, to assist with his endeavours with the grassroots St. Albert Boxing Club.
The newly-branded St. Albert Boxing Academy, a comprehensive boxing program in its first season, consists of 12 participants from nine to 16 years old.
One of the goals of The Home Opener is to “make a few dollars so we can buy these guys some uniforms the next time they go to other competitions,” Hortie said.
For more information on the St. Albert Boxing Academy, contact Hortie at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit stalbertboxing.com.