Papa Ryan back in ring
Pat Ryan and the St. Catharines Boxing Club have had a long and prosperous relationship.
Eight of the 51-year-old St. Catharines resident’s 11 sons have boxed for the club. Two have won national titles and a number of other have also medalled at national championships.
“There was six of us on one show at one time,” the IT employee at Dofasco said.
Ryan has been known to venture into the ring himself and this Friday he will be fighting Mike Pernal at the McGibbon Gloves Boxing 2022 Fight for the Kids this at the Merritton Community Centre.
It will be the sixth time he has fought at the McGibbon Gloves. The first time was about eight or nine years ago when Kevin Lamb joined the club and coach Joe Corrigan asked Ryan if he wanted to get in the ring during one of the club’s shows.
“I said, ‘OK. I guess so if you need somebody.’ That’s how it all started,” he said. “Usually Joe calls me up and asks ‘Hey. What do you weigh these days?’ And I am ‘What do you want?’ He is a hard guy to say no to and the boxing club has done a lot for my family. The trips, the nationals, the Ontarios. We have been all over the place.”
Boxing training is not a year-round passion for Ryan.
“I just train when he calls me and hopefully he gives me enough lead time. I think a couple of years ago when I fought Ryan Matthews, I had two weeks notice.”
He has known about Friday’s fight for about six weeks and has been in the gym about three times a week.
“You need recovery time. You get in the gym, you work out you get sore for a couple of days,” Ryan said. “There’s a bit of a rush and it forces you to get in shape. About once a year I get in shape.”
Ryan is ‘unbeaten’ in the ring.
“I have had five draws. We know ahead of time,” he said, with a laugh. “If you are a betting man, bet a draw on Friday night.”
He feels he has a bit of a reach advantage over Pernal and plans to use his jab. He’s hoping to escape unscathed from the fight.
“When I fought Jay Bassi three or four years ago, my ribs were cracked or probably broken. It hurt to breath for about four weeks afterwards.”
Ryan plays fastball all summer and also coaches and with the Niagara Falls Dawgs, which includes players he coached at the Grantham Optimist Club when they were 10. His over-50 legends team, Dieppe Ridge Legends, placed third at the world championships this year.
Pernal, a 43-year-old Windsor native who moved to Niagara to attend Brock University, will be making his boxing debut this Friday.
“I am actually a wrestler. I came up to Brock to wrestle and my son, Jack, started boxing during the pandemic when hockey and other sports were shut down,” Pernal said. “I would come and watch him and he had a great time. I thought for a bit of a fitness challenge, I would enter boxing and I have been training for about a year.”
Corrigan didn’t have to twist his arm to get him to compete at the McGibbon Gloves
“I put my hand up. Bruce Greenlaw, a coach at the club, told me about the charity event. Fitness has always been important to me and I like doing community service so I thought it would be a good opportunity to come in, train and raise some money for local youth.”
He is also doing it as an example to his kids.
“It is about setting a goal and seeing it through.”
He knows a punch or two in the face will be coming his way Friday.
“I have already had a few bloody noses by Pat. We have been sparring for the last few weeks together and he has been handing it to me. I am expecting more of it but I will still do it with a smile.”
He has been training seriously since about June.
“Since I started training, I have lost 20 pounds and I feel great. I have confidence and a lot better endurance.”
It has been a fun journey.
“There are tons of great guys here. The athletes and the coaches are awesome and it has been a good experience.”
He is looking forward to Friday.
“I am excited. I have my family and friends coming to watch and cheer me on win or lose.”
“Bet the draw,” Pernal said. “It’s an exhibition.”
Other local boxers on the card will be Dylan Maisonneuve, Phoenix Young-Lazo, Dennis Steingart, Jeremy Cowan, Stephanie Gicante, Omar Nori and Regina Marin. The featured bouts will be between Canadian and Irish fighters.
The night will also include a presentation to Niagara’s Four Kings, Steven Ryan, Lucas Bahdi, Rodolfo Velasquez and Spencer Wilcox.
“They are all boxers from the Niagara area who all boxed against each other as lightweights and went on to have great amateur careers,” Corrigan said. “Lucas and Spencer are undefeated pros right now.”
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the fighting will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. For more information call 905-988-1244.