Boxing is packing a punch in Hawkesbury.

Three local boxers from the Willett Boxing Club based at HyperTrain Athletics on Bon Pasteur Street recently competed at Boxing in the CLUB in Ottawa at the Beaver Boxing Club.  Kieran Fitzmorris, 14, of Vankleek Hill and 17 year-old Jordan McArthur of Grenville each won their bouts, and Aaron Elder of Vankleek Hill fought three rounds.

Coach Steven Willett said Elder fought an exciting three-rounds against an “outstanding opponent.”

“Aaron deserves a lot of credit as he showed heart and determination. In my books, anyone who has the courage to step in that ring and represent their club and their home town deserves respect and acknowledgement,” he added.

Willett owns Willett Boxing and HyperTrain with his wife Amie.  He wants to emphasize the athletic benefits of boxing and make sure people know that what is happening at local clubs is not the same scene as the big prize fights that often get scrutinized in the media.

“The perception over the years has changed,” he said.

For one thing, the big-name boxing shown on television is professional level, and clubs like Willett’s are Olympic style, which Willett said is much safer and focused on the protection of the athlete.

“Our sport is based around trying to protect our athletes and prolong their careers,” he said.

Willett is a certified coach, referee, and judge with Boxing Ontario, the sports governing body in the province.  He’s also a “cut person,” which in boxing, is the person who tends to boxers if they are injured in the ring.  His wife Amie, also owner of Eight Dance Academy, is also a cut person.

People take up boxing for different reasons, according to Willett.  Physical fitness, endurance, and self-defence are the main reasons.  At HyperTrain, there are 50 to 60 recreational boxers on average and 10 who box competitively.  They range in age from eight to their 50s.  Approximately 20 of the recreational boxers are women.

For competition, there are four age categories.  Junior includes ages 11 to 16, youth is ages 17 to 18, ages 19 to 40 are elite, and masters are age 41 and up.  Willett said there are many, complex weight categories and they can vary by only two to three kilograms.  There are three experience categories.  A sub-novice boxer is someone who has fought fewer than five fights.  A novice has fought up to 10 fights, and the open experience category includes boxers who have fought more than 10 fights.

Local schools have been showing an interest in teaching some boxing to students.  Willett said he has been approached by teachers at schools in Hawkesbury, Vankleek Hill, L’Orignal, St-Eugène and Alexandria about stopping by to teach some moves to classes.

“It gives them something positive to channel their energy towards,” Willett said of his school demonstrations, which he generally provides free of charge.

Willett is also a personal trainer and his interest in boxing began when he was young, growing up in Gaspésie.  He added that boxing provides a big boost in confidence for people who take it up.

“There’s something empowering about knowing how to handle yourself,” he commented.

New boxers are always welcome at HyperTrain Athletics.  Willett is offering a free trial class and a free, seven-day gym trial.  For more information, email Steven Willett at [email protected] or call 613-632-8844.