Two Airdrie boxers are one step closer to contender status following big wins at a prestigious Boxing Alberta-sanctioned competition held in Edmonton last month.
Each year, the Golden Gloves competition – the name given to amateur boxing competitions held across the globe – sees fighters stepping into the ring from various weight classes to vie for a golden gloves award.
Alberta’s own 2022 Golden Gloves competition, held at the Slovenian Canadian Association in Edmonton on April 23 and 24, boasted fighters from across western Canada. The event included fighters from Medicine Hat and Red Deer, and from as far away as Vancouver and Saskatoon.
According to Lucas George, head coach at Humble Boxing Academy, 32-year-old Wade Hodgson (lightweight) and up-and-comer 25-year-old Zach Contos (light heavyweight) gave their all in the ring and represented the Airdrie club well at the competition.
“I was just so proud and so impressed with how well they did at that tournament, considering the best fighters in Alberta register,” he said.
George said due to weight restrictions and the number of registered fighters for the competition, two members of the Humble Boxing gym were not able to compete, so it was up to Contos and Hodgson to strap on their gloves and rep the club.
He added the fighters had been working hard to prepare for their respective fights and fought well against their competitors in the ring.
“There were over 150 entries into that tournament and these guys both walked away with gold,” he said. “It really just goes to show they represented not only Humble Boxing, but Airdrie so well.”
Hodgson, the owner of local business Ruff Life Dog Services and a competitive coach with Humble Boxing Academy, decided to step into the ring himself, going glove-to-glove with a competitor from Quinit Boxing club in Vancouver, B.C.
“He just started training with the guys and went in and fought a really tough opponent,” George said.
According to Hodgson, after months of preparing for the competition, to finally step into the ring and take home a pair of golden gloves was an intoxicating feeling.
“Any time you win a boxing match, you’ve trained for months for it, so it is just exhilarating when you get your hand raised – it's one of the coolest feelings in the world,” he said.
“Training for months and months, and going through that process, and then getting the win is pretty exhilarating.”
According to George, amateur fighter Contos trained six days a week, averaging three classes a night in the weeks leading up to the fight.
“He is probably our hardest-working competitor that we have,” George said, adding he came up against a former member of the boxing academy Guillermo Hernandez, who represented Impact Boxing in Calgary.
“One of our heavyweights left our gym because of his location, and it just so happened that Zach and Guillermo wind up against each other and he’s fighting one of his old teammates,” George said.
Contos said having some familiarity with Hernandez’ fighting style helped prepare him for the bout.
“It was nice not having as much stress because we both kind of knew what the other person was going to do,” he said. “So that was something we factored in – trying to switch up my style to throw him off guard.”
He added when the final score was determined and it was announced to the audience, it took a couple of minutes for the realization to set in that he had won the fight.
“Even if people aren’t really into boxing – people still know the term Golden Gloves,” Contos said. “It’s cool having an accolade. It’s not just a random club card. It’s actually an accolade to be able to point to.”
George said since the competition, both fighters have been back in the ring as they prepare for the Diamond Belt competition at the end of May, which will be followed by a local boxing event hosted by the club this June.
“Their main focus right now it to keep fighting, keep training, get ready for provincials and nationals,” he said. “Zach’s goal is to get ready to go pro, so we’ve been working with [him], getting him ready, getting his fitness up – his cardio and his technique – to get him to that next level.
“And Wade wants to pursue coaching, but he also wants to stay active, stay physical, and keep competing.”
Rumble at Humble, a charity boxing event, will be hosted at the Airdrie Town and Country Centre on June 17. The event will feature all of the competitors from the local boxing club along with competitors from gyms across Alberta.
George said profits from the event will support local charities and businesses, as part of the club's mandate to pay it forward in the community.
“We are putting all our profits back into the community through BGC Airdrie, Community Links, and the Airdrie Food Bank,” he said. “The more people we have attend, the more money we’re able to give back to the community.
“Considering we’re taking none of the profits, we’re just trying our best to get the biggest cheque possible so we can give back.”
Other Humble Boxing initiatives that pay it forward include the club’s Knuckleheads program, which is geared toward low-income families and kids. The program offers them free classes and training, with the caveat they will complete good deeds in the community.
Those interested in enrolling in the boxing academy are encouraged to reach out via the club’s social media or website at hmbleboxing.com.
George said Airdronians can also swing by the club in the East Lake Industrial Park and check it out for themselves.
“People just got to show up and we’re all one big family,” he said. “We take anyone and everyone.”