Here’s to you Mr. Robertson
For more that two decades, John Robertson has been a coaching fixture at the St. Catharines Boxing Club.
Always smiling and joking, always enthusiastic, the 60-year-old St. Catharines resident has been a big part of the ring successes of the club.
Next Friday, the St. Catharines Collegiate alumni will be honoured at the Niagara Legends Boxing Show on Friday, March 10 at the Merritton Community Centre along with fellow St. Catharines Boxing Club coach Paul Zahra, Napper’s Boxing Club coach Julia Dimarcantonio, former pro boxer Ralph Racine from Niagara Falls, and Steeltown Boxing Club founder and coach Bob Wilcox.
The owner of JR Plumbing is honoured to be recognized as a Niagara Boxing Legend for his passion.
“I love it. There is nothing better than starting a kid from scratch and bringing him or her up to be a national champion. That’s the truth,” Robertson said. “You start them from nothing, bring them to the end and then basically what happens is you lose them. You are not their coach any more. It’s like raising a kid.”
Coaching boxing is about so much more than the skills the boxers acquire.
“It keeps them off the street and it teaches discipline. I see that because you have to be regimented,” he said. “If you are not, you are not going to go anywhere in the sport.”
The boxers are taught a lot of life lessons along the way.
“I probably don’t because I smoke and drink,” Robertson said, with a big laugh. “I’m not the best example as a coach but boxing is everything to me. I watch it constantly and I am constantly reading everything about it.”
His coaching methods are to begin with the basics.
“You don’t start with any fancy style. It is always the fundamentals. You show them how to execute all the punches properly and then they will create their own style. Once they do that, we try and help them along and tune them up a bit.”
Coaching is a blast for Robertson.
“We have a great bunch of guys for coaches and the kids are great. We have had boxers like the Ryan brothers and those guys were easy to coach. We’ve been spoiled.”
He likes how coaching at the club is a democracy.
“We all get along and no one is the boss. I am supposedly the head coach but we all sit down and make decisions. That way when someone loses, it doesn’t look like it is my fault,” he said, with an even bigger laugh.
Robertson boxed out of the Port Dalhousie and Merritton Boxing Clubs and had about 10 fights before a car accident took him out of commission for about a year and a half.
“I started working, got an apprenticeship and began coaching when I started my own business 22 years ago. I had more times on my hands.”
His first involvement came when Freddie Carleton asked him to coach him.
“He knew how much I was into boxing. I asked if I could come in and coach Freddie and he (Joe Corrigan) told me I could come in but I would have to help coach everybody. That was the start of it.”
He started coaching about a year before his son, Ryan Baulk, began in the sport.
Robertson’s career coaching highlight came in 2011 when the club had five medalists at the Canadian cadet championships. Liam Hughes, Jakes James and Hugo Barazza won gold medals and Gunnar Monday and Steven Dwyer earned silvers. Dwyer is still boxing with the club.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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, Brampton Cup champion Dylan Maisonneuve, Omar Nori, Riley Willis, Kyle Dickson, Josh Erb and Phoenix Young-Lazo.
Following is a list of the previous inductees:
2022: Val Ryan, Greg Black, Shawn Conlon, John Conlon and Bernie Puchalski.
2019: Vinnie Ryan, Rob McGregor, Rob Fortuna and Doug Dobias.
2018: Jimmy Neill, John Degazio Jr. and Fred Bassi.
2017: Jessy Zolnierczyk, John Degazio Sr., Jason Topolinsky and Steve Zolnierczyk.
2016: Rick Fortuna, Eddie Genze and Rocky Zolnierczyk.
2015: Frank Garofalo, Larry Darbyson, Ray Riley and Ron Gallen.
2014: Paul Benard, Sonny Wong, Willie Benard, Frank Degazio and Brian Kelly.
2013: Danny Dionne, Ray Napper Sr., Bob Kwiatkowski Jr., Eddie O’Brien and Pat Kelly.
2012: Jack Robertson, Reno Pasqua, Tiger Wright and Steve Gallinger.
2011: Leo DiFabio, Dave Demoe, Jimmy Hope, Ray McGibbon and Mike Gorman.
2010: Keith Murphy, Dennis McNeil, Hector Bordenave, Donny Venditti and Mark Rome.
2009: Vince Cappola, John Degazio, Lawrence Denapoli, Donny Gignac and Sterling Reid.
2008: Dave Morris, Frenchy Langlois, Jerry Friesen, Jim Krieger, Guy Normandeau and Johnny Farinacci.
2007: Mike Strange, Billy Irwin, Steve Pagendam and Jamie Pagendam.