Boxing coach follows her passion
Despite an impressive rowing background, Julia Dimarcantonio had no interest in coaching the sport.
“Even though I rowed for so many years, I never had any urge to become a rowing coach because you are in a coach boat for hours and hours and hours and I was always a doer,” the 56-year-old Welland native said.
The former scholarship rower at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of a Canadian four that placed sixth at the 1984 world championships turned her attention to boxing.
“I like boxing because it is way more interactive and way easier for you to work out. That sort of attracted me to it.”
That was only the beginning of her infatuation with coaching boxing which will see her honoured at the Niagara Legends Boxing Show on Friday, March 10 at the Merritton Community Centre along with long-time St. Catharines Boxing Club coaches John Robertson and Paul Zahra, former pro boxer Ralph Racine from Niagara Falls, and Steeltown Boxing Club founder and coach Bob Wilcox.
The Napper’s Boxing Club coach is a strong proponent of the benefits of boxing.
“When you see these kids and young adults and how much the sport positively affects them, whether they are national champions or lose every fight they have. It doesn’t matter. It improves their lives whether they are getting better grades at school, being better behaved at school, being better behaved at home or aren’t being bullied as much. It is one of the best sports I have ever been involved in and it is probably why I have been involved with it for so long.”
She loves everything about it.
“The development of the athlete on a personal level is so great and being part of that is huge. Plus it is big rush being in the corner. It is as good as fighting. It is a 100 per cent adrenaline rush.”
Dimarcantonio started in combat sports in her late 20s, training in kick boxing and martial arts, before transitioning to boxing about 15 years ago.
“I was in the twilight of my athletic career — or so I thought — and I started boxing for them.”
She had 14 amateur fights with Napper’s and won the Ringside World Championships in Kansas City in 2013. Eventually she started officiating and coaching.
“There are so many boxers and just not enough coaches,” she said. “As it progressed, I decided I liked coaching more than officiating even though I did it for several years and tried to get my various (officiating) levels.”
She is now working on her third level of coaching certification and is a fixture at Napper’s. The club is officially open four days a week, but when there are fights and tournaments on the horizon, she is at the gym every day.
“Depending where you are in the training plan, you could be in the gym anywhere from one to four hours.”
She has coached at the Ontario elite open championships and was named an alternate coach for the Canada Winter Games.
“While I won’t travel with the team, I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented young athletes in the province.”
Dimarcantonio has had lots of help along the way.
“I want to give a shout out to Ray Napper for believing in my coaching ability, encouraging me to continue my coaching education, and start applying to provincial positions. And to Greg Black for his continual support in the gym. Honestly, I could not have any better role models.”
Away from the ring, Dimarcantonio has been a hair stylist at Picasso’s in St. Catharines for the past 27 years. Her career meshes nicely with her coaching.
“I do think I will make a good boxing coach as I progress and I think it’s because of my attention to detail, the ability to read things and my personal and communication skills. If you do hair, you have to have those things.”
She is honoured to be named a Niagara Boxing Legend.
“It was like am I that old? Have I been around that long? I guess Joe looked at it from a community-based perspective where I kind of checked all the boxes in terms of just being part of a not-for-profit so many years and enjoying it and putting back into the community. Everyone wants to knock Welland but Welland has done a lot for me and my athletic life forever. It is nice to be able to give back to people and kids there.”
She thanked St. Catharines coach Joe Corigan for the honour and “also for all that he does for boxing and the community.”
Tickets for the boxing show, which starts at 7:30 p.m., are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. For more information about tickets, purchasing VIP tables or sponsoring the event call 905-988-1244 or email the club at email@example.com
Several St. Catharines Boxing Club members will be fighting on the card, including current Ontario senior open champion Dennis Steingart. Also scheduled to fight are Gavin Freel, Dylan Maisonneuve, Omar Nori, Riley Willis, Kyle Dickson, Josh Erb and Phoenix Young-Lazo.