Nextgen fighters featured at Ray McGibbon Gloves
The St. Catharines Boxing Club’s next generation of fighters will be in action this Friday at the Ray McGibbon Gloves Viva Las Vegas card being held at the Optimist Club on Napier Street in St. Catharines.
Riley Willis will fight Huf Boxing Club’s Peter Maslanka in a 165-pound bout, Charlie Ryan will square off against Steeltown’s Matt Munarolo in a 126-pound bout and Max Buffong will battle KO’s Rohann Kashif in a 132-pound fight.
Willis, a 17-year-old St. Catharines resident, has been boxing for two years.
“He lost his first fight and then he got a gold at the Brampton Cup and stopped him. He also dropped his other opponent so that’s pretty good considering he got stopped in his first fight in the first round,” St. Catharines coach John Robertson said. “He’s determined and he has a big heart.”
The Grade 12 student at St. Catharines Collegiate entered the Brampton Cup with a different mindset after losing his opening bout at the Silver Gloves.
“At Brampton, I came in with a while different attitude mentally and I didn’t want to lose,” he said. “I tried really hard physically and I won both my fights.”
Wilis loves everything about boxing.
“It helps me out mentally and I used to be 240 pounds before I started boxing and now I weigh 170,” he said. “My mom (Sarah) passed away when I was 15 and boxing helped me out in every way possible.”
The sport turned his life around.
“I lived in Barrie my whole life and my mom was an alcoholic and she was abusive,” he said. “I came to St. Catharines and boxing has helped everything. I used to fail almost all my classes and now in Grade 12 I am getting 80s and 90s.
“Fighting gave me a purpose and it gave me discipline that I never had in my life.”
His goal with the sport is to keep working hard and see where it takes him.
Charlie Ryan is a latest in a long line of boxing brothers that includes Stephen, Gerard, Daniel and Matthew.
“We all love boxing and I love winning,” the 15-year-old said. “And I like having fun.”
The Grade 9 student at Holy Cross credits his brothers for getting him involved in boxing. He has been training on and off for the past four years and has fought twice.
“Charlie is doing really well,” Robertson said. “He won gold at the Brampton Cup and his fight Friday will be against a guy who won the Brampton Cup in a different weight class.”
He likes that Ryan is a good listener.
“He is like the rest of his brothers. They are quiet and they listen.”
Charlie is the only southpaw in the family, not counting his non-fighting sister Mary.
“I hear there are advantages to being a southpaw but my brothers will have to teach me a couple of tricks to use it to my advantage,” he said.
Buffong, a 16-year-old St. Catharines resident, has only been training for about five months and has already compiled a 2-1 record.
“He is built to fight and most of the kids he is going to fight are going to be a lot shorter. He will probably have six or seven inches on all of his opponents,” Robertson said. “It’s a huge advantage, especially if you are a good boxer.”
The Grade 11 student at Sir Winston Churchill became interested in boxing after a friend who trained at the St. Catharines club introduced him to the sport.
“He told me about it and it sounded fun so I decided to try it.”
It was love at first fight.
“It’s a lot of fun and it’s a workout too,” said the silver medalist at the Brampton Cup.
His goals are high for this year.
“I want to win Golden Gloves,” he said. “It’s my next tournament and I want to win it.”
In the short time he has been training, Buffong feels he has improved his technique and he is a lot faster.
He makes sure to use his reach advantage to his benefit.
“I like jabbing a lot and keeping them at a distance,” he said. “I can hit them and they can’t hit me.”
He is excited to be fighting Friday at home for the first time in his young career.
“I’m pretty nervous because I don’t know how it is going to turn out, but I hope I do well,” he said. “A bunch of my friends and family are going to be watching.”
Other locals on the card are: St. Catharines’ Karan Salgotra vs. Huf’s Marc Luciano in a 230-pound fight; St. Catharines’ Jim Chan vs. Stockyards’ Kennedy Quindoza in a 105-pound bout; St. Catharines’ Chris Hughes vs. KO’s Kuwardeep Manu in a 125-pound bout; St. Catharines’ Dan Ryan vs. TNT’s Matt Bentley in a 170-pound bout; Niagara Falls’ Dylan Grottola vs. JTI’s Marcus Ambersly in a 165-pound fight; and, St. Catharines’ James Hughes vs. Dewiths’ Khol Adams in a 152-pound bout.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and boxing starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance (905-988-1244) and $20 at the door.
Proceeds from the event will be used to send the St. Catharines Boxing Club team to Las Vegas.