Two Greater Victoria boxers have their sights set on nationals and beyond, with hopes of representing Canada on the world stage.
Victoria’s Terris Smith and Langford’s Braydon Blazina are both headed to the national amateur boxing championships, set to happen in Brampton, Ont. next month. If successful there, the pair could represent Canada internationally, fighting in qualifiers that could send them to the PANAM Games next year in Chile, and potentially to the next Olympics.
Smith has been knocking at the national team’s door for years, qualifying for the national championships back in 2018.
Fights have been flowing for the featherweight in the past year after a disrupted schedule due to COVID-19, with Smith recently traveling to Portland and Mexico for bouts. Balancing the travel, twice-daily workouts and her day job as an accountant can be a challenge but it’s a lifestyle where Smith thrives.
“When I started seven years ago, it was, ‘Oh, yeah, that’d be cool.’ It’s never really been a realistic thing until now – here are the actual steps that you need to do. Now it’s coming more to life.”
Smith has beaten the current national champion in three of their past four fights, something that acts as a motivator heading into nationals, she said.
“So she’s sitting in a good spot. That high-pressure spot, with high expectations but she’s working hard and she’s doing everything she needs to do. So I’m really confident in her ability to pull it off,” said Jason Heit, who coaches the pair at Island Boxing.
Comparatively, Blazina is a relative newcomer to the ring, starting fighting three years ago just before the onset of COVID-19. A former grit-and-grind hockey player – who said he never really scrapped until stepping into the ring – Blazina got into boxing after growing frustrated from being out of sports. Blazina is a super heavyweight, meaning fighters in his weight class are few and far between. Luckily, Blazina has been training with fellow Greater Victoria boxer Brandon Colantonio, who recently won his first professional fight.
“They really understand that they’re not competing against each other, they’re helping develop each other,” said Heit. “If there’s a day where we need hard sparring, they’ll spar hard, but guys that size, we don’t want to bang every day in the gym. It’s more we want them healthy and we want them in this sport where they can do it for a long time.”
Last year in the provincial championships, Blazina had a disappointing performance, losing out to the eventual champion in the first round, but he now feels he’s in a good position for the nationals.
“I thought that I would feel more pressure,” Blazina said. “I’ve got fantastic trainers who’re doing a good job keeping me on my toes and I’m ready to go out there and show that I’m one of the best in Canada.”