Riley ready for boxing debut
Riley Kirk has gone from a sport that was beating her up to one where she can beat other people up.
“I quit gymnastics in August and I didn’t have anything else to do. I saw a video online of a girl boxing and it looked really fun so I thought I would try it.”
The 14-year-old Grimsby resident, who also competed in soccer, hockey and figure skating and did other sports for fun, had had enough of a sport that saw her break her foot and her arm bad enough to require surgery.
“It hurt too much,” she said. “I was injured all the time and my back was always hurting.”
The Grade 8 student at Central Public School started training at the St. Catharines Boxing Club about six months ago and despite a background of training 18 hours week for gymnastics, she found it a tough go early on.
“It was really fun but it was exhausting the first time. You have to hit the bag for three minutes, you get a one-minute break and then you have to do it over and over again. It is a lot of cardio which I did not have,” said Kirk, who will be competing in her first official fight this Saturday in the St. Catharines Boxing Club’s Boots and Gloves Boxing Show at Optimist Hall on Napier Street in St. Catharines . “I had a sense of accomplishment afterwards.”
She feels she has improved a lot since she started.
“I still don’t have a lot of cardio but I think it is getting better.”
Kirk has gotten used to getting punched in the face and in other areas as well.
“There was this one kid who I spar a lot and he was the second person that I ever sparred with. The first person I sparred she went really easy on me so when he sparred me, he was nonstop hitting me over and over again. I was not ready for that.”
She began to wonder a bit whether she had chosen the right sport to replace gymnastics but it wasn’t long before she was back in the gym sparring again.
“It is really fun to hit other people in the face,” she said, with a smile.
Kirk has found a second home at the boxing club.
“You find it kind of intimidating when you first walk in there but they are all really, really nice.”
Boxing club coach John Robertson has been impressed with Kirk.
“She’s very athletic and tall for her age group. I am not saying that you have to be a good athlete to be a good boxer but it helps. She has played other sports and she will excel in this sport,” he said. “She is a fast learner and within a month, you could see that she was going to be good. She is a good listener and a hard puncher.”
Kirk isn’t sure about her punching prowess.
“I don’t want to be cocky or anything,” she said.
Kirk is nervous heading into her fight Friday.
“It is my first fight which makes it a little bit better but I don’t know how much skills she (her opponent) has. I am kind of scared because it will be really embarrassing if I lose.”
She is looking forward to the entire experience.
“I have never done it before and I am excited to see if I actually like it or not, the pressure and all that stuff.”
Other SCBC members competing Friday night are Phoenix Young-Lazo, Mark Ryan, Charlie Ryan, Jeremy Cowan, Lucas Owens, Emma McLaughlin, Regina Marin, Steven Dwyer, Dennis Steingart and Dylan Maisonneuve.
Doors open Friday at 6:30 p.m. and the fighting will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are still available and they are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.
Proceeds from the event will be used to send the SCBC boxers to The Showdown at the Calgary Stampede.