Boxing club back in the swing of things
Count James Hughes among those delighted to return to training at the St. Catharines Boxing Club, thanks to Niagara moving into the red zone.
“It means everything to me,” the 20-year-old St. Catharines native said. “There were a couple of months where I was running every now and then but I wasn’t really doing anything. It is super motivating when it’s open.”
Things were much different for Hughes in the second COVID shutdown compared to the first.
“The first month that it was closed I kind of enjoyed it because I was so busy. I was training and fighting almost every week,” he said. “Then it started to drag and I knew I needed the gym to open up again.”
Hughes, who lost in the semifinals at the Canadian Olympic trials in January 2020, has some work to do to get back to the top of his game.
“It’s like riding a bike but the first time back sparring, you notice you have lost a bit of sharpness and timing. And I also put on about 15 pounds. Hopefully it comes off.”
The St. Catharines Boxing Club reopened as quickly as possible once Niagara moved into the red zone. Joe Corrigan, like all coaches at the club, knew it was important not to wait around.
“The pandemic has to be playing on their minds and you have to give them something to do,” he said. “A lot of these kids are stuck at home all the time.”
Reopening the second time was easier than the first.
“Luckily the first time we had reopened we had done a major cleaning and a revamp of the club with the (social distancing) squares and everything,” coach Bruce Greenlaw. “It was mostly a matter of contacting the members and getting them signed up.”
The club used the same training schedule it had set up coming out of the first lockdown. The club has a number of different scenarios drawn up depending on which zone Niagara is at.
“It’s limiting with the number of members that we can have and the timeline but with the template from last time, it was a little bit easier this time. Joe was on it from Day 1,” Greenlaw said.
The club now opens an hour earlier at 4 p.m. and boxing training sessions run every 45 minutes followed by a 15-minute cleanup until 7 p.m. Boxercise sessions start at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
“All the bags and boxing squares have to be sanitized and the front door and bathrooms have to be thoroughly cleaned,” Greenlaw said. “Anything the kids touch has to be sanitized.”
That includes equipment such as skipping ropes.
Right now, the club is training 30 boxers and 20 boxercise participants a day in groups of 10.
If and when Niagara gets to orange, the training would ramp up.
“Orange gives us a little bit more freedom. We would have about 25 members in the club at a time, not counting coaches, trainers and the odd parent who comes in,” he said.
Greenlaw knows opening during a red zone is better than not opening at all.
“It was sink or swim at one point and 10 is very limiting but it has always been members first here and the kids come first,” he said. “It was a no brainer that we were going to do. Joe always says that we have to have the front door open and as long as that door is open, you have done your part.”
The reaction from the boxers makes all the hard work worthwhile.
“There’s a lot of people smiling coming in, that’s for sure, and they are very happy,” Greenlaw said. “We spent the better part of a Friday, Saturday and Sunday contacting people and being contacted back. Everybody was give me what you can because I just want to come in.
“Response has been great and we have really good members and parents here.”