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Strict ‘no sparring’ rule kept boxers safe during pandemic

Sooke Boxing Club explains how it was able to keep operating prior to Dr. Henry’s latest orders
Ellen Connor says they’ve had to raise the cost of their monthly fees around $5 a person to afford buying additional pieces of equipment, to fulfill provincial health protocols. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Ellen Connor believes her no-nonsense approach at her boxing club in Sooke has helped keep the community safe, amid the COVID-related challenges faced by fitness classes across B.C.

Sooke Boxing Club credits a large part of its success in avoiding a potential COVID-19 outbreak by not allowing sparring in the boxing ring since the moment it re-opened in June.

The VI Free Daily spoke to Connor prior to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s recent ban on adult sports, including combat sports, which has temporarily halted activity.

Up until that time, the Sooke Boxing Club, a non-profit organization with five volunteer boxing coaches, had been able to accommodate 12 athletes in its space while adhering to provincial health guidelines. Anyone in the boxing facility had a mask on, disinfectant spray nearby and was maintaining a two-metre distance by staying inside a square box outlined by bold, white tape on the floor.

READ MORE: Sooke boxing duo empowers women

“We didn’t want to open that door [for sparring] … because it could end up as a detriment for all of us,” Connor said. “Luckily, the new restrictions now say sparring is not allowed, and we don’t have to make too many new adjustments to stay open.”

She said that the decision to call off sparring lost her a few athletes, but that’s alright with her.

Connor said she has a wide demographic at the boxing club, which falls out of the norm of mostly 20 to 30-year-olds wanting to hook and uppercut their way to the boxing ring.

The club, located at 6686 Sooke Rd, teaches children in elementary school to people in their 60s. Two of their newest coaches are 15 and 16, respectively.

Connor’s daughter, Jill, taught a class by herself. She’s 15-years-old, but the amateur boxer who’s competed in 27 fights and counting has advanced skills compared to most club members.

The boxing club isn’t taking any new members. In addition, its Wonder Women boxing card, scheduled for May, is postponed.

Connor said she’s thankful that the community supported the club with various fundraising events, as they’ve been able to buy more pieces of equipment to accommodate provincial health guidelines.

Although the situation wasn’t ideal, Connor maintains a positive outlook.

“It’s the moments where a parent tells me that their little guy was really looking to ‘Boxing Day’ that makes it worthwhile.”

As for now, it’s about waiting for Henry’s OK to start again.

“Maybe it’s karma or I spoke too soon as we’re closed awaiting new guidelines to come out from the Provincial Health authority,” she said in a Facebook post. However…. still proud of our club and grateful for our community.”

ALSO READ: Sooke’s Wonder Women boxing card a smashing success


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Coach Ellen Connor says Sooke Boxing Club has been able to accommodate 12 customers in their underground space while adhering to provincial health guidelines. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)