Friday night fights showcase skills
There is something upcoming on the Niagara sports calendar that will definitely be for the feint-hearted.
In fact, the 24th annual Ray McGibbons Gloves is tailor-made for students of the Sweet Science. A 12- to 13-bout card hosted by the St. Catharines Boxing Club and taking place Friday, March 31, at the St. Catharines Optimist Club, 8 Napier St., is just what the ringside doctor would order.
A night at the fights is also a fitting tribute to McGibbon, a long-time coach who still shows up at the boxing club to lend a hand “from time to time” though he’s 89.
“Ray still coaches occasionally. Sometimes, he would come in and work with kids on the bag,” Joe Corrigan, president of the boxing club, said.
Corrigan started the tournament to showcase the skills of competitive fighters from the region, most of whom train out of the club on Niagara Street. He felt their commitment to training and hours spent at the gym should be rewarded with an opportunity to box in front of family and friends.
Naming the annual show in the retired GM worker’s honour was the “obvious choice.”
“Ray coached here for 26 years and, before that, he coached in Niagara Falls. We wanted to do something to honour him,” Corrigan said.
“I think it’s awesome, but he’s very humble. He doesn’t want any limelight on him. He just liked working with the kids.”
Corrigan said he hopes to have as many as 13 fights lined up by the 7:30 p.m. bell time. However, how many wind up taking place may not be known “until the very last minute.”
“That’s usually the case,” he said. “Sometimes, a fighter doesn’t make weight, someone drops out due to work.”
“One time I had five fighters coming up from the States together cancel the night before, because one of them couldn’t cross the border.”
Fights at the Ray McGibbons Gloves will take place in the novice and open classes. Novice fights consist of three, two-minute rounds, while bouts in the open class will last a maximum of three, threeminute rounds.
All fighters will wear protective headgear, regardless of class or ring experience, Corrigan said.
Headliners from the St. Catharines club expected to step into the ring include Danny Ryan, an Ontario champion and Canadian silver medallist in the 75-kilogram open class; Dennis Steingart, who went 3-0 to top the 75-kg novice division at the recent Brampton Cup tournament; and Karly McCabe, the hometown hopeful in the women’s 60-kg class.
Ryan’s younger brother Gerry, open youth 64 kg; Jake Isenor, open 69 kg; and R.J. Clarke, cadet B novice 48 kg; are also shown on the poster promoting the fight card at the Optimist Club.
In past years the Ray McGibbons Gloves have attracted 300 to 400 people and, along with Murphys Gloves, for master boxers; and a fundraiser for the Wise Guys Charity Fund, is one of big events the club hosts annually.
Attendance at Murphys Gloves was upwards of 800 the first time Steingart, 22, fought in front of a hometown crowd.
“It felt a little nerve-racking, but you get used to it once you start fighting,” the employee at the Cosco in St. Catharines said.
Steingart returned to the ring last November after “taking a break” from boxing.
“I really missed it,” he said of being a part of the close-knit boxing fraternity.
“It’s almost like a family. At first it’s kind of intimidating, but after you begin sparring with the guys and hearing them supporting you, you develop a mutual respect for each other.”
Steingart improved his record to 4-1 with his three unanimous decisions at the Brampton Cup.
“It’s pretty good to have one fight, let alone three fights in three days,” Corrigan said in praising the young fighter’s performance at the recent tournament.
Steingart went the distance in his first and final fight in Brampton, while he was awarded the victory after the referee stopped the second fight.
Dennis Steingart, 22, of St. Catharines hopes to improve on his 4-1 record fighting in the 24th annual Ray McGibbons Gloves taking place Friday, March 31, at the St. Catharines Optimist Club.
Ray McGibbons, 89, coached in Niagara Falls before spending 26 years coaching fighters at the St. Catharines Boxing Club.