For the Journal
The Bluewater Boxing Club held its third annual Banger in the Hangar event this past Friday and Saturday – this year partnering with the Sarnia Pacers minor lacrosse association.
“I believe all kids who play sports deserve a chance,” said Bluewater Boxing Club President Tom Hennessey. “So I thought it was a unique opportunity to partner with a youth organization; we have some of our kids that are in our gym, that are in that organization.
“It just seemed to be a good fit.”
The event featured several Bluewater Boxing Club members squaring off against fighters from across Canada and Ireland.
“We had some great kids from around the province that were participating, and they matched up well,” Hennessey said of the Friday night bouts. Many ended in a draw on the judges’ score cards.
Friday night also saw the return of local boxer Justine Honsinger for the first time in six years.
“She’s been talking about it for a while, and I saw an opportunity. The most important thing in boxing is to get in between the ropes again, and once they get that bug, they are back in the swing of things,” said Hennessey.
Honsinger fought to a draw, and afterwards was asking what weight class she should box at provincials. Hennessey believes fans will see more from her in the future.
Saturday’s card featured nine local fighters taking on boxers from around the country.
Of those, Hennessey’s fighters came away with four wins, a draw and four losses.
In the first fight of the night, Xander Williams fought to a draw against Top Glove Boxing Club’s Gavin Macissac.
Kimberlyn Timmermans picked up the first victory of the night for the Bluewater Boxing Club after landing a stiff shot that sent Elizabeth Rahaman to the canvas.
Sheadon Bedard also picked up a win, in the fastest fight of the night. Bedard only needed 21 seconds to finish Michael Schmedt from Championship Boxing Club.
In what was arguably the fight of the night, Cayle Jolicoeur went toe-to-toe with Leading Edge Boxing Club’s Tad Prsysucha. Neither fighter gave an inch and they traded blows the entire three rounds, much to the delight of the large crowd on hand. At the end of the three rounds, the judges scored the decision in favour of Bluewater Boxing Club’s Jolicoeur.
“He’s big and he’s strong, and certainly that’s what wins Cayle most bouts is his strength, tenacity and his will to win.”
Hennessey went on to say that had he been given the choice, Jolicoeur’s fight was certainly up there for fight of the night.
Nicole Drury also picked up a big win for Bluewater Boxing Club, taking on nationally ranked, and 2022 OBC Female Fighter of the Year Steph Boyd out of New Brunswick.
“Steph Boyd is a nationally ranked boxer and spends time at our national training center, so you know they didn’t bring her all the way from New Brunswick because they thought Nicole would beat her, so that is a huge win for Nicole,” Hennessey said.
The main event saw Bluewater Boxing Club’s Josh Jablonski take on Justin Aguilar from Pembrooke. Aguilar would come away with the decision, during an entertaining and close battle.
While much attention was on the fights, the real winners of the event were both the Bluewater Boxing Club and the Pacers organizations, said Pacers fundraising coordinator Lisa Headrick, who approached Bluewater Boxing with the idea to help out both organizations with fundraising as well potentially introducing others to the world of amateur boxing in Sarnia.
“Having the Pacers on board brought a lot of new people to the event,” said Headrick. “Until it’s really put in your face, you don’t really know how old your kids can be, and it kind of eliminated those questions and it was nice to show them another option exists.”
Headrick gave credit and praise to the volunteers, adding it was a full time job, plus extra hours, in order to coordinate the event: from the Pacer families running raffles, selling food and drinks, to those working the parking lots and setting up tables and chairs.
“It was cool when we opened the door Friday night and I had 45 of my Pacer people with their Pacer stuff on, all the way to the parking people. It didn’t matter who I asked, our volunteers were awesome and we couldn’t have done it without them.”
Headrick was very pleased with the community support, whether it was from the boxing club, the Pacers, those who bought tickets and especially the volunteers.
“The common goal for us, was bringing it back to our community, and the youth in our community need somewhere to go and something to do, and I just want to create a place in the city for them to do that.”
While the numbers have not been finalized, Headrick believes with the help of sponsors and community support, the event was a huge success for both the Pacers and Bluewater Boxing Club. She is also hopeful to have potentially gotten some families interested in the sport of boxing, one she believes takes true grit to compete in.
Not only did local businesses step up to help, such as Ironworks assisting with training for the event, but those who purchased raffle tickets and especially 50/50 helped make the event a great success, including donating the 50/50 winnings back, both nights. In each draw the winnings were over $1,200, and that type of support is something unique to Sarnia, Hennessey said.
“I don’t know how many boxing shows I go to in a year, but a lot…almost every weekend,” he said. “One of the unique things that happens here, people come out to the event with the thought, not only to watch a sporting event, but to support a youth organization. It amazes me every single time, and the last five of six winners of the 50/50 have donated it back, and that’s just incredible.”
Hennesey said the money is put towards things like going to provincials and other tournaments. He says the club really has to help subsidize rooms and other things in order for these kids to go, so the community support means everything.
Bluewater Boxing Club now looks ahead to a novice tournament in September from Boxing Ontario, as well the open provincial championships in October.
“The goal would be to get a bunch of the kids in novice – all of them if we can – and the kids like Sheadon Bedard, Mike White and others into the open championships and onto the national team.”
Full results of the event will be posted on the Boxing Ontario website.