The head coach of Team B.C. thinks the future of boxing in the province is in Nelson.
Bob Pegues said he was impressed by the performances of local fighters Samson Berkeley and Elias Martinez, as well as Nelson Boxing Club coach Jesse Pineiro, at last week’s Canadian Boxing Championships in Edmonton.
The pair were making their debuts at the event and both returned home with bronze medals.
Berkeley, 15, lost to Quebec’s Jordan Cadran in the light-welterweight 63 kilogram division.
“He did really, really well,” said Pegues. “I was in great surprise to see him come through with the medal that he got. Looking forward to next year because now he knows what to expect, he knows the level of competition.”
Martinez, meanwhile, fell to Alberta’s Janick Lacroix in the light middleweight 70-kg division after earning a first-round bye.
“Elias was in super tough,” said Pegues. “He lost to last year’s national champion. For a 14-year-old kid, he just did an absolutely amazing job.”
Pegues said young athletes like Berkeley and Martinez aren’t expected to win in their debuts. Instead, the coaches hope just being at nationals makes the right impression on them.
“What we’re hoping for from there is they’ll see what they need to do to arrive at the top of their game,” said Pegues. “They’ll go there, they’ll see the level of competition, they will see what it’s like to enter a tournament with 245 other athletes there. The weigh-in process is long. Usually the whole thing is very overwhelming for anyone who goes through their first time…
“After five days there it’s been established in their mind what it’s all about.”
Next year he thinks both fighters will be in gold-medal contention.
Twenty-seven fighters competed for Team B.C., which finished third overall in the medal standings behind Quebec and Ontario, respectively.
One of those fighters was Krishan Lysenko, who used to box out of Nelson and now trains in Nanaimo. Lysenko lost by decision to national team boxer Sara Kali, who won bronze at the 2016 world championships and is a candidate for the 2020 Olympics.
Pegues said he thought Lysenko deserved the victory.
“Absolutely a machine in there. She was super fit, super determined. She beat that girl at every single corner. … She absolutely won that fight, I don’t think she got hit.”
Pegues also had praise for Pineiro, who was on B.C.’s coaching staff for the second year at nationals.
“Jesse is one of the rocks on our coaching staff for sure. His boxers all come well [prepared]. The technical groundwork is all well done, basics all near perfect. He does a really, really good job with all of them.”