Team B.C. coach Peggy Maerz (left) gives boxers Dominic Barbosa (centre) and Connor Rankin (right) some technical tips during Team B.C.’s Nationals Training Camp at Bulldogs Boxing gym in Salmon Arm March 21. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Wheelchair boxing demo prompts B.C. gym to take a jab at national movement

Shuswap boxing coach spearheads initiative for disabled athletes with international assistance

A boxing gym in B.C. in will be showcasing the skills of wheelchair boxers during their upcoming Hit 2 Fit charity boxing event – and they are looking for avenues to make boxing more accessible to disabled athletes in Canada through an international partnership.

Adaptive boxing, which includes wheelchair boxing, blind boxing and boxing for those with head or neurological trauma, is becoming increasingly popular as accessibility for disabled athletes rises to the forefront in sporting communities.

While still in the early stages in Canada, Salmon Arm’s Bulldogs Boxing coach Peggy Maerz has been in talks with the Adaptive Boxing Organization (ABO) in the U.K. to spread the movement.

Read More: Salmon Arm boxers are fighting fit and ready to rumble

“When we said we want to be inclusive, this is it, this is what we were talking about,” Maerz says.

Maerz and the Bulldogs Boxing team have made a push to offer a diverse range of classes for seniors, boxers with Parkinson’s disease, and neurological injuries. After coming across a video of Maerz talking about how boxing helped her overcome struggles with PTSD, ABO founder Colin Wood reached out to Maerz and it was obvious they were on the same wavelength.

“You can see what Peggy is trying to do is from the heart, and that is what interests me,” Wood says. “I love what she is doing and I would like to open up a door for her to work with us.”

Wood has an extensive background as a rugby player and coach, and has been advocating for more inclusivity in the sports world for 15 years after beginning to lose his eyesight.

Read More: 79-year-old B.C. man fights Parkinson’s with boxing

“I was diagnosed to be going blind, and basically since then I have been on a journey of inclusion of sport. It’s something that made me realize we haven’t got a proper professional tier of disabled athletes within many sports, like rugby or boxing,” he says.

Part of the difficulty behind sanctioning these inclusive sports is safety, something Maerz and Wood both agree is a key focus for any athlete, not just those with disabilites.

“Just because we want to be inclusive doesn’t mean we throw the rules to the wind,” Maerz says. “I can work with a guy like Colin because he is not prepared to chuck his integrity out just to press the issue.”

In fact, to counter some safety concerns, Wood and the ABO have been developing specialized wheelchairs for boxers.

“I have designed a new chair you can move with no hands, and electronics within it that are going to actually do a lot of good. There is nothing out on the market like this, we hope this tech puts a big boost into allowing disabled people to box and show these guys can compete among the best,” he says.

Read More: Salmon Arm woman fights for a life-changing surgery

While initially setting out to just put on a demonstration fight for a Salmon Arm audience, Maerz has scaled up her ambitions and hopes to work with the ABO to set up a similar body in Canada.

“If we can show we can do this, and we don’t have to reinvent the wheel for amateur sport because these are good solid safety rules, then we can press it forward in the amateur world,” she says. “The goal from the beginning was always about adaptive boxing and bringing them into the ring, I just didn’t know what it looked like. I figured I would just get the ball rolling, I didn’t think it would happen in my time… but now it’s here, so get ready for it.”

During the Hit 2 Fit charity event, May 4 in Salmon Arm, Wood and the ABO will be putting on demo fights between members, including Wood who will square off with UK-based Chris Middleton.

Read More: Seniors put on the gloves for active agers event

Read More: Hit 2 Fit charity boxing knocks it out once again

Read More: Hit 2 Fit fundraiser lands TKO


 

@Jodi_Brak117
jodi.brak@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Colin Wood (right) and Chris Middleton (left) square off in the ring during the Remembrance Day Rumble event in the UK. (Facebook/ABO)

Colin Wood (right) and Chris Middleton (left) square off in the ring during the Remembrance Day Rumble event in the UK. (Facebook/ABO)

Wheelchair boxer Chris Middleton will be participating in the demo fight during the Hit 2 Fit charity event in Salmon Arm, facing Adaptive Boxing Organization founder Colin Wood. (Image contributed)

Just Posted

Fire ban back in effect for Northwest Fire Centre region

Starting May 24, both Category 2 and Category 3 prohibitions will be in place

Kelowna company wins contract for LNG Canada project in Kitimat

SK Form & Finish will work with equivalent of 4,000 fully loaded concrete trucks

The maze that Jack built

Kitamaat Village kids, young and old, have fun getting lost

Terrace man killed in logging accident ‘would have done anything for anyone’

Wife remembers 43-year old Petr Koncek, father of two children

600 new campsites coming to provincial parks and recreation sites across B.C.

Tourism Minister announced half of the new spots to 13 most popular provincial parks

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana growing ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Nisga’a Nation tourism industry hits the road

First pilot tour to the Nass Valley is set for this summer with Indigenous Tourism BC

B.C. woman left ‘black and blue’ after being pushed off 40-foot cliff at lake

West Shore RCMP looking for witnesses as investigation continues

Thunderstorms to bring heavy rain, risk of flash floods in the southern Interior

Ten to 30 millimetres of rain to fall over the early weekend

MAY 23: the first of 1,200 trailers start arriving

LNG Canada has a transportation plan in place to minimize impact

Unbe-leaf-able: Agassiz man finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers in a month

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres

Most Read