Learning the sweet science 0
WASAGA BEACH — Ishaan Dutt unleashes a barrage of blows on Cody Kelly.
Kelly lifts his arms in front of his body to deflect the flurry of punches. The two fighters step back from one another, shuffling their feet back and forth on the blue mat.
Sam Lal watches approvingly from ringside, urging Dutt — a foot shorter and about 60 pounds lighter than his opponent — to maintain the pressure.
The bell signals the end of the three-minute sparring session, and Dutt pulls off his headgear, the 13-year-old's face drenched in sweat.
From the outside, Tri-Star Boxing's location on Dunkerron Street is nondescript, a low-slung two-storey concrete block building.
Inside, though, is where dreams — and boxers — are being created. Two rows of heavy bags line either side of the ring in one half of the gym, the bags reinforced with duct tape. In the other half of the gym, a polished wooden floor where the boxers warm up, lined with plaqued posters of Mohummad Ali, and a bio of George Chuvalo, the greatest heavyweight fighter to ever be produced by Canada.
There's signs here as well, posted by Lal, reminding the boxers to clean up after themselves, and more importantly, show respect.
Dutt, and fraternal twin brothers Cody and Clayton Kelly of Collingwood, are gearing up for an amateur event at Mohawk College in Hamilton in late August.
Tri-Star has been open about 15 years; Lal says he's been boxing since he was 10, but he's hesitant to talk about his own career. He reluctantly notes he's about 70 — though his physical appearance resembles a man 15 years younger.
His focus are the kids he trains, building up young men and women — and older, as he trains people as old as 75 — to first become physically fit, then learn how to handle themselves within the ring.
They come a variety of walks of life, he says; some want to improve their physical fitness, others seek to gain confidence.
"It's about learning to be gentle in your behaviour… you have to develop that quality before you can become a boxer," said Lal, whose approach to the sport is almost Zen-like. "Anybody can do it, if they're determined; if you come to the club, I will work with you."
"Tri-Star is not just a club — it's a lifestyle," said Graham Mottram, who is a trainer and coach under Lal. "Train and condition your body, mind and soul to be the best you be for others, and yourself, everyday.
"Mental and physical conditioning is essential in daily life, and we need someone like Sam to introduce us to this and show us the way."
Tri-Star is a member of the Ontario Boxing Association, the sport's ruling body in the province. Like other boxers across the province, its members receive a licence to fight under the OBA — with the potential to fight at a provincial, national, or even international level, such as at the Olympics. Beyond that, a fighter has the opportunity to turn professional.
"They always have something to work towards," said Lal.
For now, though, the three boxers sitting in the office for an interview — a fourth boxer from Tri-Star, Ben Zantingh of New Lowell, is also on the card for August — are unsure of their future prospects in the sport.
"I just want to take as far as I can go," said Dutt.
"Time will tell how far they will go, but discipline is required," said Lal. "If they don't have discipline, they will fall."
The Kelly brothers wrestled in high school, and decided to give boxing a try.
"I love the competition," said Cody, a middleweight with fast feet and an even faster jab with five wins under his belt. "When I try something, I try to be the best."
Clayton also wants to get a few more fights under his belt.
"We'll see where it takes me," said the super heavyweight.
"It's like any other sport — you have to endeavour to do it," said Lal. "It takes five or six years — it doesn't happen overnight."