Boxing club marks 10-year milestone

This fall marks the tenth year of operation for the Sunshine Coast Boxing Club (SCBC) in Gibsons.

Competitive amateur boxing had been dormant on the Sunshine Coast for over 20 years when Boxing Canada-certified coach Rick Shannon relocated to Gibsons from Revelstoke to accept a millwright position at Howe Sound Pulp and Paper in early 2008. After learning of Coast boxing notables Tony Duffy and coach Barry Krangle’s accomplishments in the ’80s, Shannon saw the interest and went about finding a location to open a club. It was Shannon’s good fortune that the Gibsons and Area Community Centre had opened in 2008 and that he crossed paths with former Winnipeg coach Jamie Berthalette, who put in two years helping get the club off the ground.

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The club was busy during those first two seasons with people of all ages accessing the boxing and fitness program offered. Out of the program came the SCBC’s first competitive boxer and champion, David Nygren, who won the Provincial Bronze Gloves title in 2009.

It was when the boxers set up a dedicated boxing gym in a shed on Chamberlain Road in 2010 that the competitive boxing program took off. The boxers were “road warriors” at that time, travelling to the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and Kelowna to box.

Along the way Nygren, Nik Stevenson, Randy Hollett, and George Vourtsis won many novice titles, building the club’s reputation with the pressure fighting style the club is known for.

2013 was a huge year for the club. In March, Vourtsis won the first-ever WBC Canada Western Canadian 147-pound title by split decision over Burnaby’s Ron Price at the sold-out River Rock Casino. This fight is in the history books as one of the best ever in B.C., as Vourtsis, who suffered a bad eye cut in the first round, went toe to toe with Price to eke out the decision. The crowd was on its feet throughout the fight. Vourtsis went on to become WBC Canada National silver medalist later that year.

The War On The Shore series debuted in April 2013 at the Gibsons Curling Club. Before a sold-out home audience Randy Hollett won his first of two title belts in the main event, and in the semi main event Vourtsis beat a much larger opponent in a thrilling fight in which Vourtsis scored a third-round knockdown to cement the victory.

Youth boxers Ryan Babor and Beau Smith were also locals boxing on the card. Smith won the WCB Canada Youth lightweight silver medal in Saskatchewan a couple years later.

Other successful boxers of note from the Chamberlain Road gym were Scott Ewen, Cale Frazer and Jenelle Lawson, who all went undefeated in their boxing experience. Graham Porter had a 6-1 career, boxing as a heavyweight into his early 40s. Also recognized are the coaching contributions made by Todd Alain and Ben Smith.

War On The Shore became an anticipated annual event, with Sechelt’s Marcus Baptiste as the headliner in 2014 and Vourtsis in 2015 and 2016.

In 2017, War On The Shore 5 took inspiration from Roberts Creek’s Julia Budd’s world championship MMA win and featured Gibsons’ Angela Cantarutti against Victoria’s Terris Smith in a rare women’s main event. Cantarutti and Smith put on a great show with Cantarutti winning a split decision.

Dr. Paul Murphy donated his services as ringside doctor at all five War On The Shore events.

Most recently, the first wave of SCBC boxers have become good coaches and organizers. They have paved the way for today’s boxers like Marcus Davies who won the Combsport BC title belt by knockout in 2017 and Aiden McKenzie, a Roberts Creek youth boxer.

In the last year, SCBC welcomed Tariq Abdualrahman to its coaching team. He has coached in Scotland, England and Bahrain and recently brought the Bahrain boxing team to Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast to train for a week with Canadian boxers.

“The SCBC is successful because of the support through hands-on work by many people, our generous sponsors, the cooperation of the Town of Gibsons when we host boxing events and the volunteers who have stepped up to help,” Shannon said.

“While the competitive boxing is most visible, what the SCBC most importantly has brought to the Coast is its recreational and fitness programs enjoyed by so many Coasters over the past decade. At our gym you will see youth training alongside our accomplished boxers as well as two senior gentlemen who have Parkinson’s disease and combat it through boxing fitness training,” Shannon said.

The Sunshine Coast Boxing Club is located at 851 Gibsons Way in Andy’s Plaza and is always happy to welcome newcomers. The non-profit SCBC offers Box Fit Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays 6 to 7 a.m. and Recreational/Competitive Boxing Monday, Wednesday, Fridays 6 to 7:30 p.m.

For more information, call Shannon at 604-989-0928.

– Submitted

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