In a historic day of boxing at the provincial championships, two fighters from Quesnel’s 2 Rivers Boxing Club each earned a spot on Team BC.
One of them, Britynn “Hurricane” Carter, 16, was also bestowed with the BC Female Boxer of the Year title in the Youth division.
The other, Robyn Grant, 22, showed how even when you lose the fight, you can win the battle. She was up against the class of the competition, national team member Nyousha Nakhijiri, with the Canadian star fighting up a weight class to challenge Grant. Nakhijiri is three years older than Grant and has significantly more bouts all over the world. It was a unanimous decision in Nakhijiri’s favour but Grant won a major coup in getting the experience, and they both landed on Team BC in their proper weight classes.
“It was an excellent experience to be in the ring with a national level athlete,” Grant told The Observer. “I felt confident entering the ring. I knew she couldn’t hurt me with power. She’s all speed. I impressed myself and others how I kept up with her in points, we were toe to toe. It was my cleanest and most technical fight to date. I look forward to being her teammate.”
Grant’s coach, Wally Doern, said it was a win-win situation.
“Robyn held her own and I was really impressed with how she handled the match. We knew the odds were really stacked against us but we had to see where Robyn was at, up against the best. She did well.”
The boxing boot was on the other foot for Hurricane Carter, Quesnel’s 16-year-old tornado. She had to drop a few pounds to edge into her wheelhouse weight class, succeeded, then was called out as the provincial award winner only minutes before getting into the ring with Kya Chisholm from Cranbrook. She worried after the fact that it might have been a psychological advantage.
Most boxers have all the physical attributes to win any given fight, so “it is 90 per cent a mental game,” Carter said.
But what Nakhijiri is to the Elite age division, Carter is to the Youth age division, and with the win over Chisholm is now going to PEI representing BC at the Canada Winter Games. She gets to punch through a glass ceiling, when she gets there.
“This is the first year that girls are allowed to box at the Canada Winter Games so I get to be a part of that, and it’s amazing,” Carter said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m so honoured just to be able to go.”
It’s somewhat surprising that 22 years into the 21st century is the first time Canadian females get to box at the largest sporting conglomeration the nation holds. The path to the squared circle is just as tough and varied for either gender.
Grant, for example, travels from Prince George to train at the 2 Rivers facility with Doern.
“I started with Taekwondo at age 11,” Grant said. “Rugby was a passion in high school; I was selected to go to the BC Games on the rugby team. I moved onto MMA (mixed martial arts) and my first tournament was a kickboxing match where I received gold. It was at this tournament that persons recognized I had great skill at boxing and I made the decision to focus on this one art: boxing.”
Carter has focused on boxing for many years, despite her youth. She’s competed in the United States, Alberta, Mexico, and has the habit of stringing together long winning streaks. To prepare for the Canada Winter Games she will be travelling back to Mexico and also to a club in Nelson.
So where is school in all of this? She is a student at Correlieu Secondary School.
“Oh, that’s the kicker,” she said with a laugh. “I’m taking two months off of school. I’m trying to get so much done before I leave (for Mexico), and try to figure out in advance who my teachers are going to be next semester and bargain with them about what we’re going to do. My principal (Marissa Knauf) is so supportive about it, and helps me plan out how I can get the credits I need to graduate while still doing my sport. She went to college for basketball, so she understands.”
The school’s coat of arms is even emblazoned with their balance of academics with athletics: the scholastic scroll and Mercury’s winged foot. If this keeps up, for Grant and Carter, they may have to add a boxing glove.