The Williams Lake Boxing Club was staggered, but soundly beat the standing eight count after COVID-19 rocked the face of the sport, forcing local gym organizers to shut down for four months.
Open now for training in limited capacity, local professional boxer Stuart McLellan said, unfortunately they haven’t been able to take on any new members due to coronavirus regulations set forth by Boxing BC.
“We’ve been back training since they let us reopen [in late June],” Stuart said. “But we’ve got to follow the rules and going at limited capacity due to the size of the gym. It’s too bad because a lot of people are eager to join, but we’ve got to do things safely here.”
Currently, he said a group of about 10 boxers train Tuesday and Thursday evenings — give or take a few fighters each session — at the gym.
Stuart — a former Canadian champion who has amassed a 27-win, four-loss and three-draw record in his pro career, including 10 fights in Mexico — said sparring is allowed as long as all equipment is sanitized and clean properly before and after each session.
“It’s had a pretty huge impact on the sport throughout the province and in the world,” Stuart said. “I know of two fights they’ve held in Vancouver, but no fans and it was a pay-per-view online thing. They’re doing stuff in Mexico, but then there’s quarantine and all that to worry about.”
Right now, Stuart said his focus is on training current WLBC amateur fighters like his brother, Duncan McLellan, and newcomer Dustin Norberg, for a time when the sport can return to normal.
“It sucks not having that motivation of a fight coming up,” Duncan said, who has a five-year career as an amateur under his belt. “There’s extra cleaning, hoops to go through and all that. It’s a bit hard to stay motivated. Usually, I’m out jogging and have your next opponent in the back of your mind but that’s not there right now.”
Norberg agreed, noting keeping motivated through the pandemic has been the hardest part, however, said there’s still nothing that compares to training at a boxing gym.
“There’s something about it — being able to get away from everything,” he said. “It’s like a place to come vent and not worry about anything else.”
FROM ONE SQUARED CIRCLE TO ANOTHER
It’s no secret to those who know him Stuart McLellan is a fan of professional wrestling.
The 34-year-old pugilist has spent roughly a month training under the tutelage of Canadian Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame member Sean “Massive Damage” Dunster at his Monster Pro Wrestling School in Edmonton, Alta.
The second of four boys in his household, many makeshift backyard wrestling matches took place over the years, he said.
“I love wrestling. I have my whole life,” Stuart said. “[Training with Sean] has been so much fun and since there isn’t much happening in terms of fights in boxing I thought this would be the perfect time to do something like this and try it out.”
Stuart, though, said he’s looking forward to the opportunity to step back inside a boxing ring for a future bout with wrestling being a fun distraction for the time being.