On the ropes at 70

Wally Dorn steps in the ring in Independence, Missouri

  • Aug. 26, 2015 12:00 p.m.
Wally Dorn devotes his time to training young boxers but still maintains a competitive spirit as demonstrated by his bout in Independence

Wally Dorn devotes his time to training young boxers but still maintains a competitive spirit as demonstrated by his bout in Independence

There’s never just one reason we take a risk, try something different, step out of our comfort zone. For Wally Dorn there were many reasons he chose to enter the Ringside World Masters Championships in Independence, Missouri.

Boxing has been a passion of Dorn’s for many, many years and although he now primarily coaches young competitors at the Two Rivers Box Club, there’s still a competitor on the inside and when he saw this masters competition, he figured he was in competitive shape so he entered.

“I trained seriously beginning in May and lost 30 pounds,” he said.

His training was basically the same as the young boxers he trains.

“Training is training regardless of your age,” he added.

“You set your own limits always aware of your age (Dorn is 70 years old) and compare your cardio level to a 20 year old in the prime of their lives.”

By the time he arrived at the masters, Dorn said he was at least 90 per cent there on the fitness level.

“I went into it feeling very confident.”

Once they arrived in Independence, Dorn did a small workout every day just to limber up and relax. The big push was done, it all had to be there before he left Quesnel.

In his division, 55+, there were just three competitors, chosen on a draw system based on experience, age and weight. The one competitor from California got a bye and Dorn was matched with 62-year-old Richard Andrini from Orlando, Florida.

At 70 years, Dorn was the oldest competitor in the championship.

As they entered the ring for the first round, Dorn was in the blue corner and Andrini in the red.

“We were fairly evenly matched as the round began but for some reason the referee gave me two cautionary 8-counts. I didn’t know why, it was disappointing.”

In boxing 8-counts are usually because the referee believes the boxer needs the stoppage, but Dorn felt they were unnecessary. Three 8-counts and they call the bout.

“But the referee is the ultimate authority in the ring.”

In the second round Dorn said he came out strong, scored well and the referee gave Andrini a standing 8-count.

“At one point he was coming at me, I side-stepped and he fell to the canvas. It didn’t look good for him.”

“Again in the third and final round I came out strong, again scoring well. Andrini threw a lucky slapping punch to my head and the referee chose to give me another 8-count, which ended the bout. This negated everything else about the three rounds. It was over.”

With everything Dorn has taught his own boxers, he put aside the disappointment and accepted the referee’s decision. And with more than 1,000 competitors in multiple rings, the masters championship carried on.

But the irony of the situation was Andrini had injured his shoulder when he fell in the second round and ended up in hospital. Instead of handing the winning belt to Dorn, it passed to the guy from California who never stepped into the ring.

Looking back on the trip, Dorn has no regrets. It was a wonderful holiday, met some fabulous people, got into great shape and he’s already making plans to go back after that belt next year.

“I’ve never been to anything that big before, it was amazing. It gives you a different perspective on boxing meeting people from around the world who share the same passion for the sport. There were no barriers, everyone got along.”

And Independence, Missouri holds another special meaning for Dorn. His grandfather was from the Independence area.

“It’s the same area as the James and Younger gangs were from. But I was so busy with the boxing I didn’t have a chance to look up my heritage, but I will next time.”

On the trip home, with his bout behind him, Dorn and his wife took time to visit several heritage sites.

“I felt good about my performance, I trained hard and was in great shape, it just didn’t go my way.”