Djama and Schmidt claim gold; Huard earn trip to nationals
by Randy Pascal
Brett Huard (Valley East Boxing Club) is heading to nationals, Aden Djama and Daniel Schmidt (both from Top Gloves
Boxing Academy) returned home with gold, and a handful of locals fell victim to a very tough draw as the 2017 Golden Gloves Provincial Boxing
Championships were contested earlier this month in Toronto.
Competing in just his tenth bout and entering the "Open" classification for the very first time, Huard found himself opposite 2015 junior champion
Gerard Ryan of St Catharines, a seven year veteran of the sport with well over fifty fights to his credit.
While he would fall short of pulling off the upset, Huard still earned a berth at the 2018 Canadian Boxing Championships in Edmonton (March 28th to
April 1st). "I'm a lot more calm as I get into the ring," noted the 16-year old 64 kg pugilist.
"A year ago, I really didn't know what I would do when I get in the ring. Now, I have a really good idea of what I want to do." In fact, while some
might be surprised at his rapid ascension in the sport, Huard suggested he is not particularly shocked.
"I've always thought I would be able to do certain things, and if I put my mind to it, I feel like I can do much more," he said. "I find I've got to
get better on my choices of punches, when I attack, when I don't attack. It's all timing. You see an opening and you go at it."
Huard was one of two VEBC athletes with a reasonably decent resume of bouts under his belt, the other being 19 year old CND graduate Brayden
Henri. A pole vaulter in high school whose father boxed as an amateur, years ago, with both Valley East and the Sudbury Phoenix clubs, Henri was
confident as he prepared to leave for Toronto.
"For some people, they feel a lot of pressure," he said. "But I feel I have been practicing a lot, so when I get there, I just focus on doing the things
I need to do, the things I have been practicing, not worry too much and have some fun."
Unfortunately, the Elite Open "B" 69 kg grouping would prove to be extremely competitive, with Henri taken down (3-0) by Shane Tremblay
of the Gideon Boxing Academy in Scarborough. Returning to the ring after taking a little time away, the local product knows the corrections that
have to be made, moving forward.
"I'm going to have to do everything I have been doing in training, execute it," he said. "You can't take unecessary shots. You need to keep your distance,
so that you don't get hit with shots that you don't need to get hit with. And you don't want to be throwing sloppy punches, or punches that won't be doing
Competing in the Youth Novice 69kg division, Aden Djama of Top Glove definitely had a chance to put into practice what he had learned, fighting three
times in four days. Djama opened with a 3-0 win over Hamza Zawari of Scarberian Boxing Club in Scarborough, looking equally as impressive
in besting Jose Venture of Jamestown Boxing Club in Oshawa (also 3-0).
Back in the ring Saturday night, Djama claimed a split decision over Chris Webb of BAM Niagara, joining Daniel Schmidt as a Top Glove gold medal
winner. With less entries in the Junior "B" Novice 54 kg weight class, Schmidt needed only a 3-0 decision over Carter Korman from Built by Mack
in Toronto to claim the crown.
For several other Sudbury and area boxers, the competition was far more about gaining experience. Shayn Seguin of Valley East had but one fight
to his credit when he stepped in against Cyprien Dsouza of Dewith Frazer Boxing and Fitness in Mississauga.
"I need to work on my footwork," noted Seguin, tagged with the loss at provincials. "I've never really had the dancing skills, I really need to work on
that. It's a lot of hopping, skipping rope. You don't really think about it when you're fighting."
"You're supposed to think about it when you're training so that you don't have to think about it when you're fighting." This was only the second bout for
Seguin, whose big lesson from the Silver Gloves was learning the importance of not dropping his hands.
"You're in the moment, not thinking about it, and the next thing you know, your hands are down," he explained. Twenty-one year old Mason Sivret
had also competed just once in the ring prior to losing a 3-0 decision to Sunny Guan of Revolution MMA in North York.
Something of a self taught athlete, Sivret began training with the VEBC some six months ago, bringing along a solid foundation upon which his coaches
would build. "I came in here with good footwork, pretty good form," Sivret suggested.
"They told me it's rare to see that. I did take karate when I was younger, just for a year or two, but I've always practiced boxing on my own at home."
Still, he was quick to learn that some core abilities did not provide a full gamut of preparation when he tackled his first bout, also at Silver Gloves,
back in October.
"I was out-boxing the guy, doing everything I learned here, but then he caught me in the corner with my hands down and I got rocked," acknowledged Sivret.
"Even if I lost, I learned from it, was able to bring it back to the gym and keep going."
It hasn't hurt to have the words of wisdom from someone who has been through this all before. A world junior boxing champion in 1992, Mike Stewart
was helping out in Valley East, recognizing the value that comes from having substantially more experience than the entire VEBC brigade combined.
"I need to keep them calm," said Stewart. "It's a whole mental thing, a battle between the ears. The punches are going to come, the technique is going to
come, I need to keep them calm." While every single newcomer who steps in the workout with either the VEBC or Top Glove believes they know boxing, Stewart
and the remaining coaches at both venues understand that the teaching never ends.
"A lot of guys step in and want to throw the big power punch with their arms," said Stewart. "But it's all powered from your legs. It starts right down
at your toes, that's where the secret is."
Rounding out the Sudbury slate of representatives at the 2017 Golden Gloves were Bruno Desrochers (3-0 loss to Adrian Halford of Atlas
Boxing and Fitness - North York) and Patrick Martin (stoppage versus Anthony Gangadeen of Gideon).