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

Grease fire in Saanich prompts reminder to have proper fire extinguisher on hand

One woman was involved in the incident and treated on-scene for smoke inhalation

Lau’Welnew Tribal school students rock Mary Winspear Centre

Thursday’s Rock the Salish Sea show starts at 7 p.m.

VicPD warns local businesses of new scam

A man posing as a homeowner has been requesting painting services to try to get banking information

CRD warns commuters of traffic interruptions planned for Interurban Road

Wastewater treatment project construction expected to affect traffic for one week

Film crews in downtown Victoria producing upcoming TV series

‘Significant economic contributions to the area’ coming from production

POLL: Do you plan on making any purchases on Black Friday?

We’ve all seen the images. Shoppers rioting outside of a store in… Continue reading

‘Very disrespectful’: B.C. first responder irked by motorists recording collisions on cellphones

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue deputy chief challenges motorists to break the habit

Daily cannabis linked to reduction in opioid use: B.C. researchres

Researchers looked at a group of 1,152 people in Vancouver who reported substance use and chronic pain

B.C. man gets 23 years for murder of Belgian tourist near Boston Bar

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

Island student lobbies school board for dress code consistency

Jaylene Kuo contacted school trustees after seeing dress guidelines at brother’s school

Bids down, costs up on Highway 1, B.C. independent contractors say

Rally protests NDP government’s union-only public construction

Members of little people community applaud change to drop ‘midget’ term

‘It’s not about sensitivity,’ says Allan Redford, the president of the Little People of Canada

Little progress in preventing sudden infant deaths since last report: BC Coroner

Coroners panel studied 141 sleep-related sudden infant deaths between 2013 and 2018

Most Read