They circle each other around the ring set up in a gym above Baker Street.
“Hands up. Relax. It should be like dancing. I want you to have a rhythm — your rhythm,” said head coach Jesse Pineiro to the shadow boxers.
Nelson Boxing Club is a relatively new addition to the local sports’ scene. With about 25 current members, there are three practices a week led by Pineiro and assistant coach Peter Bockner.
“Jesse grew up with a heavy bag in the kitchen,” whispered Bockner, Pineiro’s father.
Pineiro has 17 years boxing experience worldwide as both a competitor and a coach. Not only does he have several medals and championships under his belt, he has worked for six years at Canada’s largest boxing gym in Vancouver — Griffins Boxing and Fitness, producing several provincial and national champs. He also spent six years coaching under Kevin Howard, current head coach of team Canada.
“Boxing is old school training for a lot of sports,” said Pineiro.
The certified Level 3 NCCP boxing coach was given gloves as a kid by his dad and the competitive individual fell in love with the sport that allows people to “get out of it what you put in.”
“There’s nothing quite like it,” Pineiro said. “The consequences are very real.”
Life lessons are taught in the ring. Dedication, focus and concentration have to be maintained under stressful circumstances.
“Someone is going to punch you,” he said. “Boxing teaches you to overcome adversity. It’s technical but it’s about facing your own fears. If you can do boxing, you can do anything. Boxing is no little deal.”
Some sparring followed Wednesday night’s shadow box session.
“If something’s not working, change it,” Pineiro told the duo in the ring.
This was the last time the guys would be throwing punches in the ring before heading to Spokane for a competition this weekend.
As part of the Amateur Boxing Association since last fall, the local club is affiliated with clubs in BC, Alberta and Washington State.
Jeff Emmett, Nik Jmaeff and Marlin Olynyk are fighting this weekend. This is Olynyk’s second competition. The other boxer’s first.
“Everyone is very raw until about 10 fights,” said Pineiro. “The result isn’t the point. It’s the experience.”
Olynyk received many compliments on how he previously fought and he said the “little rewards keep him going.”
“It’s obviously fun,” said Olynyk. “And it’s always challenging. It’s a real combination of your mind and body working together.”
Nelson Boxing isn’t a boys’ club. There are two women who box and a hand full of kids. Boxing is especially great for young people, said Pineiro. He remembers one of his early coaches telling him no street fighting, no drugs, no drinking — “don’t waste my time.”
Boxing also teaches kids self-esteem.
“With boxing, there is no more need to prove yourself,” he said. “It gives you confidence and teaches respect for yourself and others.”
Pineiro feels it’s important to distinguish between professional and amateur boxing. The rules are different and from a safety standpoint, amateur boxing involves very few injuries. Competitors must wear protective headgear. Beyond that, there are the moral differences. There’s no money involved and no ulterior motive — “It’s about doing something for the passion of the sport.”
There’s no violence, no cage match culture. A code of honour rules.
“This is a gentleman’s sport,” he said.
The club can be found at 330 Baker Street. Practices are held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.