The sound of gloved hands forcefully hitting bags, boxing gloves and muscle resounded through Coal Valley Boxing Club’s Fernie location on Thursday, January 23.
Light-footed boxers danced around the ring, punching bags and each other as they trained for their upcoming fights. Twenty people have signed up for the boxing club’s third annual charity boxing match.
Judgement Night III will take place on February 1 however the charity boxers have been in hard core training mode for the last 10 weeks.
Boxer Samuel Jensen said that after attending last year’s event, he knew he wanted to give it a go.
“I went to the fight night last year and it was a really good atmosphere and it’s such a unique opportunity to get a little taste of being a boxer and fighting in front of a crowd,” he said. “Three one-minute rounds is pretty manageable. You still have to put in a lot of work though.”
Jensen has been training for his three minutes in the ring since mid-September. Boxing club president Mike Johnson has been working tirelessly with the athletes in order to get them ready for their debut fight.
“These guys have had a real crash course in everything that is boxing,” explained Johnson. He said they’ve had to teach the volunteer boxers everything about the basics of boxing, including different stances, punches, offensive and defensive moves and a whole lot of cardio work.
“We have to be comfortable and confident that those guys stepping into the ring can hold a guard,” he said. “Basically that they’re not going to get seriously hurt because we just can’t allow that.”
Johnson went on to explain that Judgement Night is a sanctioned event from Boxing BC and certainly not a “free for all.” Officials will be coming in from Cranbrook and Kamloops to make sure everything runs above board.
There will be 10 charity boxing bouts beginning at 7 p.m. at the Fernie Community Centre. Six of those bouts will be men and four will be women. After an intermission, the fights continue.
According to Johnson there will be an additional six to eight fights that are a combination of fun boxing which is for kids under twelve years of age, and amateur boxing. He also mentioned a senior fight featuring a boxer from Fernie. Boxers will be coming from Cranbrook, Nelson and Calgary to take part in the fight night event.
Kate Mussett is another boxer who will be facing off in the charity portion of Judgement Night. Mussett has no previous fighting experience and decided to sign up because it seemed like a great way to get fit, a great way to learn a new sport, and a great way to give back to the community. She noted that the most challenging part of the training for her has been fighting her basic instincts.
“As someone who just started fighting, fighting those instincts to flinch or to close your eyes or just to not block people… there’s some instinctual things that as a human being you really have to just flip upside down.”
Jensen agreed with Mussett, adding that simple things like managing your breathing suddenly become a lot more difficult when someone is trying to hit you.
“It’s easy to look good on the bag,” he said. “But when you have someone trying to hit you back and moving around, it just saps your energy so fast. It’s really hard but it’s a lot of fun, especially when you start getting better.”
Both Jensen and Mussett have noticed huge improvements in their performance and fitness levels since beginning training. Now, with just over a week left until their first fight, they are working on preparing mentally as well as physically.
“I’ve been watching a lot of training videos or fights with commentary to see what people are doing right, what people are doing wrong, how to use certain techniques and how to fight people off,” explained Mussett.
“I’m doing a bit of meditation,” added Jensen. “It’s a really good thing to be doing because it just brings your whole stress level down. One of the things that can sap your energy really fast is stress and anxiety and things like that, so having a good mental state is important.”
For the last week of training, Johnson is still working with athletes on the fitness aspect of the match but is also taking a step back and walking them through what to expect.
“The adrenaline is going to be running at 500 per cent,” said Johnson. “The heart rates are going to be running at 500 per cent. This is new for most of these guys so stepping in that ring, you’ve got no teammates backing you up and there’s nowhere to hide. It’s only three minutes but that last minute of that last round is probably the hardest minute of your life.”
Despite the intense pressure of the match, it’s all done for a good cause. Every year, the boxing club donates the proceeds of the night to local charities, individuals and families in need. Johnson said that it’s very important to everyone involved that money raised stays in the Elk Valley. After the event, the Coal Valley Boxing Club board will decide where to donate the money.
Even though the event is a ton of work, Johnson knows that there is a huge payback.
“It’s my payback to do something for the community. It’s the one event every year that everybody asks about and I’m very proud to put it on.”