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)

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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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)

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)

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

A fire destroyed a commercial building on Idlemore Road early Tuesday. The fire is under investigation. (Kenn Mount photo)
UPDATE: Early morning fire destroys new Sooke distillery

Firefighters still investigating cause of Island Shiners Distillery blaze early Tuesday

Oak Bay Police Department briefs for May 3 to 9. (Black Press Media file photo)
Copper wire stolen after Oak Bay construction site targeted twice by thieves

Cop briefs include pair of impounded cars, swiped back medication

Langford Fire Rescue (Black Press Media file photo)
Langford looks to strike out on its own for emergency fire dispatch services

Mayor Stew Young says the city is large enough to negotiate solo

Sidney Lions Club is currently selling 50/50 raffle tickets for a virtual fundraiser to send kids and adults with disabilities to Easter Seals Camps like the one at Camp Shawnigan. (Easter Seals/Submitted)
Sidney service club raises funds for people with disabilities to have some summer fun

Raffle helps fund in-person and online summer camps for adults and children

Sean Hart, 34, unexpectedly left the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility in Saanich on Nov. 6, 2020 and has now been missing for six months. (Photo courtesy Penny Hart)
Search continues for Saanich man Sean Hart six months after his disappearance

Support from community, police keeps his mother hopeful

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The majority of city council votes in favour of this design for a new Salmon Arm flag on Monday, May 10, 2021. (City of Salmon Arm image)
Time for a change: Salmon Arm’s ‘corporate’ city flag is on the way out

Two councillors raise concerns about logo being too corporate for a flag

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau receives his COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccination in Ottawa, Friday, April 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
75% of Canadians need 1st vaccine dose to have more normal summer: Trudeau

The country is on track to hit a major milestone on the road to COVID-19 herd immunity Tuesday, with 40% vaccinated with a 1st dose

A black bear, dubbed Huckleberry by Deep Cove, B.C., residents died on July 31, 2020, after becoming conditioned to food and humans. (North Shore Black Bear Society photo)
Fewer dead bears, more fines: Advocates call for B.C. conservation officer reform

B.C. Bear Alliance wants body to see cameras on conservation officers after more than 600 black bears were killed this past year

Condemned building of the Twin Gables Motel in Crofton is not safe and yet a teen has been climbing around on the roof while others were ripping the siding off the building. (Photo submitted)
Destructive behaviour by teens wreaking havoc on Island community

Crofton residents becoming fed up with the constant vandalism and fires

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Drug users were shut out of Vancouver’s decriminalization proposal, critics say, demanding redo

The coalition is asking the city to raise the proposed drug thresholds from a 3-day supply

David and Julie Kaplan with their children Estelle and Justin. (Special to The News)
COVID-19 border closure stops B.C. family’s cross-country move

Maple Ridge couple, two kids, turned away at New Brunswick border

Kelowna RCMP precinct. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna RCMP reviewing rough arrest after video shared on social media

The video shows an officer punching a man while arresting him for allegedly driving a stolen car

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
B.C. to provide three days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Most Read