By Jesse Ferguson, 4BRANT | Photographs and additional background by John Bradford
On the night of July 6th, over 300 boxing fans filled the backyard of Knights of Columbus for what was tagged as “Return of Friday Night Fights Under the Lights” put on by Bell City Boxing Club in Brantford.
It’s been since 2011 when the last similar event occurred on a Friday night outside. Bill Williams headed those amateur shows in the past. Williams was forced east to care for his mom then and has only resurfaced in Brantford last August. The name of the club may have changed, but his 40 year passion for boxing is just as strong.
Bill Williams, here with one of his elite boxing proteges, Jen Williams. Although not related, they both feel it is like a family atmosphere training together.
Bill’s states his goals are simple, “to keep kids off the street, give them a reasonable and safe place to belong and to get a good workout.”
It was a Boxing Ontario sanctioned event for three rounds each (if necessary), featuring different weight classes from a variety of clubs, with both male and female boxers.
The talented local (barefooted) performer, Steven Ryan (below) played guitar and sang before and after the bouts to entertain the crowd when there were not boxing matches taking place.
Boxers came from Bell City Boxing Brantford, TNT Guelph, Gray Cats of Simcoe, King of the Ring of Brampton, Horace Hunter Club of Scarborough, Steel Town Boxing of Hamilton, Motor City Club of Oshawa, Irwin’s Boxing of Niagara Falls, Warriors of Six Nations, Durham Club, Motor City Detroit, and even one from Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The weather was perfect: 30 degrees which settled down rather nicely at sundown with a pleasant little breeze. The lights came on as the sunset and the boxers worked their hearts out to the hoarse cries of their corner coaches.
The first bout of the night was between some very lightweights, both under the age of 10! The Nova Scotian, Tacari Howe and Six Nations’ rising star, Logan Ellis squared off, standing tall, barely over the height of the second rope.
And these mighty small stuffs came out and unleashed fury! You may be hearing of Tacari Howe (red helmet below) in the future of boxing as this ball of energy started throwing and just wouldn’t stop– full speed ahead! This was a Fun Box Exhibition at this age but it was very entertaining!
Ellis must have a chin on him as he never fell to the mat nor gave in, displaying great balance despite the tenacious Howe closing in all match.
Fans were stunned as the second match of the night between Carolyn Redmond of TNT boxing (red gloves) and Aman Kandola of King of the Ring, which seemed to be going as planned, was stopped early as one of the coaches threw in the towel out of abundance of caution for the safety of the boxers. Officials declared a RSC, (Referee Stopped Contest) and the officials declared Redmond the winner.
The third bout, filled with fire power and speed, featured Lisa Tlustos of Bell City (Brantford) and Tara Smith of Motor City (Oshawa). Smith came on strong but Tlustos weathered the early storm, despite Smith taking the first round pretty handily. Tlustos fought back hard though as Smith (blue gloves) seemed to lose steam. The match went on and Tlustos was clawing back into contention. Smith was awarded the split-decision.
And the punches kept coming, non-stop! Jordan Wisdom of Bell City took on Tyler Rossiter (blue gloves) of Durham. A fan favourite bout for both boxers. They went toe-to-toe as officials declared a split decision in Rossiter’s favour. The Rossiter cheer-leading squad (below, right) was animated!
The next match was just as, if not more, intense. Mathankan Iranjan took on Spencer Wilcox (blue gloves) of Hamilton. And boy, does Wilcox ever pack a punch. Undoubtedly the hardest punches landed thus far, and Wilcox wins a unanimous decision from the officials.
Spencer Wilcox is one of the brightest stars in amateur youth boxing in Canada. Coming from a family where five siblings box, and three have turned pro, Wilcox is currently the three-time Canadian Youth Champion. In May he represented Canada at the Intercontinental Championships in Colorado Springs. He won all his preliminary bouts but lost a split decision to the USA #1 Youth Boxer in the final.
In August, Wilcox takes to Hungary for the World Boxing Championships as Canada’s representative.
If all goes well, Spencer Wilcox will be our Canadian boxer at the Youth Olympics in Argentina in October. Well done young man. We are CANADA PROUD.
Steven Nicholson of Durham Boxing and Gursagen Deol (red gloves) of Brampton’s King of the Ring club met in the sixth bout. Nicholson was outlasting his opponent to begin with but Deol did get better progressively, and wore his worthy opponent down. Deol won by split-decision in a tough contest to decide over Nicholson.
Then the sun went under the treeline at half-time intermission and then we had Friday Night Fights Under the Lights!
Female Elite fighters, Jen Williams of Bell City Boxing (red gloves) and Rebecca Domm came to the ring to compete at the higher level and with the intensity it demands.
Williams was powerful and agile and had the best of Domm from the outset. Officials had to stop the fight out of safety concerns, and declared a RSC (Referee Stops Contest) awarding Williams the win. Bell City Boxing takes the trophy and Brantford was on the board!
Then the biggest audience roar for announced boxers was launched when Brody Williams (also not related to Coach Bill Williams) of Bell City ran in for the heavyweight division bout. Williams was facing Taha Mirz from King of the Ring boxing of Brampton, a far taller opponent.
Williams started slower but he picked it up fast enough and won the second narrowly and scored well in the third. Williams showed much stamina and ended the bout with a solid fury of of punches landed. However, disappointingly for Brantford, officials decided it was a split decision with Mirz taking home the trophy.
The next match saw Andrew Sztricsko from Bell City quick to announce his presence as the hardest puncher of the night, sending Quentin Kelly (red gloves) of Gray Cat Boxing of Simcoe off the ropes very early after the opening bell. But Kelly came on strong after the initial flurry from Sztricsko and in round two, the slender Kelly kept coming as Sztricsko was saved by the bell.
In the final round, Sztricsko was not so lucky. As the crowd roared throughout this match, this round ended just like the last with Kelly pummeling Sztricsko. The official decision was a unanimous win for Quentin Kelly of Simcoe.
Bout 10 saw Skylar Williams (red gloves) of Bell City matched up against Nolan McKinley Of Irwin Boxing Niagara Falls. These two swung for the fences early, landing shots on each side. Williams caused a substantial nosebleed in the second round as he took control.
McKinley stood tough though, not giving in an inch.
The crowd applause was deafening when it was announced local boxer Williams was the undisputed winner with an unanimous decision. McKinley was, however, very gracious in defeat.
Skylar Williams is an assistant coach for Bell City Boxing for prospective new boxers.
In the final bout of the night, Tyler Devchenzo of Steel Town Boxing of Hamilton, pulled the ol’ “hands-behind-the-back” taunt early in the contest. But Brantford’s Devon Renwick (blue gloves) accepted the challenge and took over after that.
The crowd erupted again for hometown Bell City Boxing Club’s Renwick as he won by unanimous decision from the officials.
Congratulations go out to Bill Williams, Bell City Boxing Brantford promoter and head coach; Jaime Cogger, club president; coaching staff Jack Blasdell, Eddy Wisdom and Skylar Williams; officials Sonny Wong, Paul DeMelo, Joyce Finley, Val Ryan, Vince MacDonald; supervisor Marcus Ward and medical director, Dr. Tim Burns from Port Stanley. Also big thank-you to all of the volunteers and ring announcer needed to run the event.
Also, congratulations to the opposing clubs and all the boxers!
Thank you to Knights of Columbus for contributing to the atmosphere; the “ring girls” (below) Natalie, Casey and Angie for displaying the cards for each round enthusiatically; and last but not least, the fans that support amateur boxing with such fervour and passion.
Effervescent Bout Card Carriers, left to right: Angie, Casey and Natalie.
The event demonstrated safety, training, fun and sportsmanship shared by all in attendance. It says something about the camaraderie in the sport after punching the tar out of one another for three rounds that the combatants leave the ring shaking hands and smiling.
And the fans left screaming for more exciting nights like this.