Boxer didn’t need luck of the Irish
It was an impressive debut for (Irish) Gavin Freel at Friday night’s Niagara Legends Boxing Show at the Merritton Community Centre.
The 16-year-old member of the St. Catharines Boxing Club pounded out an unanimous decision over Noah Punter of the Corcoran Boxing Club in a 126-pound fight.
Freel had no nerves leading up to the fight.
“Honestly, I was just excited. My brothers helped me out with everything and everyone believed in me: my coaches; my sparring partners; and, my family.”
He was ready when he stepped into the ring.
“It was just stick to the plan and use my left hand because it is dangerous.”
He had a blast in the ring.
“It was a great match and my opponent was really good competition. It felt awesome.”
Freel already has the boxer’s persona down pat. He has a nickname, Irish, and he looked the part wearing the orange and green colours of Ireland’s flag on his boxing shorts.
“My family is all Irish and my dad is from Ireland so I grew up being Irish and that is why the fighting is in me.”
He is looking forward to getting better in the sport.
“I want to continue training and working hard and see where it will take me. Maybe I will turn pro.”
The Grade 11 student at Saint Francis started boxing about nine months ago and was hooked immediately.
“I loved it man. Just beating people gave me pleasure,” he said, with a smile. “I have been a fighter my whole life and I have been doing since I was a little kid training with my brothers and stuff. Then my girlfriend’s cousin (Charlie Ryan) helped me out with getting into it.”
He picked the sport up quickly.
“My coaches helped me out by helping me find my rhythm. They pushed me to get better and better.”
He couldn’t wait to step into the ring.
“In December, I heard there was an event in March so I figured if I trained hard enough I would have enough time to be ready.”
St. Catharines Boxing Club coach John Robertson liked what he saw Friday night.
“I thought he was great. He did a great job.”
He feels Freel has lots of potential.
“He is a southpaw, he is athletic, he is explosive and very coachable.”
About a month ago, the coaches felt Freel was ready for his first fight.
“You could tell. He was progressing quickly because he’s so athletic,” Robertson said.
But there is still lots of work to do.
“The next guy will be better so he will have to improve but I thought he was excellent tonight.”
In other bouts involving SCBC fighters, Steven Dwyer lost his 140-pound bout 3-0 to Bramalea’s Max Tomies and Brampton Cup champion Dylan Maisonneuve dropped a 2-1 decision in his 165-pound fight to King of the Ring’s Parminder Pannu. Pannu was coming off a gold medal performance at the 2023 Canada Winter Games.
Club fighters taking part in exhibitions were Kyle Dickson, Mark Elliot, Phoenix Young-Lazo, Josh Erb and Riley Willis.
Included in the list of 2023 Niagara Legends inductees honoured Friday, March 10 at the Merritton Community Centre are long-time St. Catharines Boxing Club coaches John Robertson and Paul Zahra, former pro boxer Ralph Racine from Niagara Falls, Napper’s Boxing Club coach Julia Dimarcantonio and Steeltown Boxing Club founder and coach Bob Wilcox.