Hughes thrilled to represent Canada
For Canadian athletes, few things top the thrill of representing their country for the first time.
St. Catharines Boxing Club member James Hughes, the 2018 Canadian 69-kilogram youth boxing champion, had his first opportunity to do so at a recent international event in Colorado Springs, Colo., in June.
“It was awesome,” the recent St. Francis graduate said. “It was obviously something I have dreamed about for a long time to wear Canada on my back.
“It was one of the greatest moments of my career, if not the best.”
Hughes ended up losing his first fight to a boxer from Trinidad and Tobago, but he was taught some invaluable lessons.
“It was a great learning experience and I came away with a lot of what to do and what not to do,” the 18-year-old St. Catharines resident said. “It was a tough loss, but it was a win at the end of the day.”
The major lesson was to never let up.
“You can never sleep at any second during the fight and you have to be 100 per cent ready and know what to expect.”
Wearing his Team Canada singlet, Hughes received another taste of international action Friday at the 18th Annual Niagara Legends Boxing Show at the Merritton Community Centre. He ended up fighting New York State Golden Gloves champion Nasheem Williams of Rochester to a draw.
“He is definitely among the top five (opponents he has faced), if not among the top three,” Hughes said.
The two-time defending provincial champion is training hard over the summer and is focusing hard on boxing.
“What’s next is club shows and tournaments, have as many fights as I can by the end of the year, and try to go to nationals again, but this time as a senior.”
Moving to senior ranks from junior will be a huge step up for Hughes and it will be the first of many quantum leaps.
“My end goal is to turn pro and become a world champion.”
To prepare for the senior ranks, Hughes has already been sparring with a lot of senior boxers that train out of the St. Catharines gym.
“They hit harder, they are faster and they are more aware.”
A member of the St. Francis boys basketball team that won an Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association’s silver medal, Hughes will be working and boxing for the foreseeable future.
“If you want to be the best, you have to train the best and you have to sacrifice being with your buddies.”
Hughes enjoyed the chance to fight in front of a hometown crowd Friday.
“It is always a great crowd and I know most of the people,” he said. “It is special to fight in front of my family and friends.”
In other bouts Friday, Ireland’s Sean Devenney defeated Tarza Crawford of the St. Martin’s Boxing Club in Rochester in an 80-pound fight; St. Catharines’ Karli McCabe beat Dakota Urban of TNT Guelph in a 132-pound match; Ireland’s Brendan O’Hagan topped Ivory Loving from Rochester in a 99-pound match; St. Catharines’ Matt Ryan fought to a draw versus Ireland’s Troy Bell in a 124-pound bout; St. Catharines’ Gerry Ryan defeated Michael Quach of Stockyards in a 141-pound fight; St. Catharines’ Dennis Steingart beat Stockyards’ Kofe Sarpong in a 165-pound bout; St. Catharines’ Stephen Ryan beat Ireland’s Callum Toland in a 135-pound bout; Canadian champion Sunny Thind of King of the Ring Boxing Club defeated Irish champion Tommy Hyde in a 178-pound match; Ireland’s Bryan McNamee beat St. Catharines’ Jake Isenor in a 152-pound fight; Ireland’s Brett McGinty topped Daniel Payne of Battle Arts in a 170-pound match; and, Ireland’s Tom Stokes topped St. Catharines’ Dan Ryan in a 154-pound bout.
Gerry Ryan was named the Canadian boxer of the night while McGinty received that honour for the Irish team. The fight of the night award went to Isenor and McNamee.
Honoured Friday night were Niagara Boxing Legends Jimmy Neill, John DeGazio Jr. and Fred Bassi. For stories on them, visit the BPSN site.
The event was presented by the St. Catharines Boxing Club and The Wise Guys Charity Fund, which expects this year to top $3.4 million in money raised for local charities.