Top Glove mines medals at Golden Gloves

The Sudbury Star - - SPORTS - KEITH DEMPSEY FOR THE SUD­BURY STAR

The rea­son the Moroc­can-born Youssef El­bouachraoui was vis­it­ing Sud­bury, roughly an eight-hour drive from his home in Mon­treal, was sim­ple – to babysit a friend’s dog.

“But then I found Top Glove Box­ing Acad­emy and I fell in love with the gym,” said El­bouachraoui, who moved to Canada with his fam­ily at the age of four in 1997. “With the coach (Gord Apol­loni, head trainer and owner of Top Glove), we have a nice re­la­tion­ship. That’s why I de­cided to stay in Sud­bury.

“I was only sup­posed to be here for one month. And I stayed here only be­cause of box­ing. Be­fore I started at Top Glove, I was all de­pressed, 76 kilo­grams (167 pounds), and be­fore I started to com­pete I had to lose 16 kilo­grams (35 pounds).”

He now lives and trains in the Nickel City and com­petes in the 60-kilo­gram divi­sion (132 pounds), and re­cently wrapped up a goldmedal fin­ish at a Golden Gloves box­ing tour­na­ment in Ni­a­gara Falls.

The Golden Gloves event served as fights No. 4 and 5 for El­bouachraoui, who fought in the elite novice, 18-plus divi­sion.

“I im­pressed my­self with the duck­ing and slip­ping,” El­bouachraoui said. “We worked on that a lot with Gord be­fore the Golden Gloves, and it worked re­ally well at Golden Gloves. It’s why I won gold.

“Me and Gord, we re­ally vi­su­al­ized the fights even be­fore it started, and I fol­lowed the plan. I suc­ceeded in fol­low­ing the plan.”

An­other rea­son could be that the well-rounded south­paw boxer con­tin­ues to add to his reper­toire.

“I bring a lot of straight lefts and right hooks,” said El­bouachraoui, who stands 5-foot-6. “I use my speed, and the duck­ing, be­cause I’m short, it’s a bit eas­ier to duck un­der the punches.”

The Golden Gloves com­pe­ti­tion was about a week ago and El­bouachraoui is step­ping right back into the fire of com­pe­ti­tion, all in an at­tempt to keep the mo­men­tum rolling.

El­bouachraoui will be fight­ing in a club show on Satur­day in Toronto. There’s also a pos­si­bil­ity of a sec­ond fight, Sun­day in Oshawa.

“We’re try­ing to fight ev­ery week­end or ev­ery two weeks,” El­bouachraoui said.

The other in­cen­tive is to have 10 fights un­der his belt. Once that oc­curs, El­bouachraoui will then be con­sid­ered an open fighter, al­low­ing for more op­por­tu­ni­ties, like na­tion­als.

Cur­rently, El­bouachraoui is re­garded as a novice fighter.

And while at­tempt­ing to col­lect as many fights as pos­si­ble, El­bouachraoui will also em­bark on his next tour­na­ment at the Bramp­ton Cup dur­ing the first week of Fe­bru­ary.

“I want to get the ex­pe­ri­ence, pre­par­ing for next year,” El­bouachraoui said.

El­bouachraoui runs five kilo­me­tres ev­ery day, while work­ing on his box­ing skills Mon­day to Fri­day.

“I do my best to at­tend all of the box­ing classes, but some­times with work it’s hard,” El­bouachraoui said. “But at least the run­ning has been done ev­ery morn­ing.”

Apol­loni cred­ited El­bouachraoui as be­ing one of the hardest work­ers in the gym.

“We talk about be­ing in a plan be­fore the tour­na­ment, mak­ing the plan as to how they’ll be ap­proach­ing the ring, how to re­act to dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions, and Youssef did that pre­cisely and ex­actly and it showed it the ring,” Apol­loni said. “He fol­lowed the plan to a T and, of course, there was an award to that.”

Pa­trick Martin, 14, also rep­re­sented Top Glove at Golden Gloves, com­pet­ing in the Junior C open divi­sion, for ages 14 to 16. He earned sil­ver.

“He fought some­one who had 22 fights,” Apol­loni said. “Even though Pa­trick was far be­hind in terms of tech­ni­cal abil­i­ties, he now has the con­fi­dence. Pa­trick is go­ing to be there.”

Be­cause of be­ing in the open divi­sion, Martin will get an op­por­tu­nity to fight at na­tion­als in Bri­tish Columbia in April. El­bouachraoui will not. But the plan, Apol­loni laid out, is to get El­bouachraoui to na­tion­als in a year’s time.

In terms of Martin’s prepa­ra­tion for the up­com­ing na­tion­als, Apol­loni said his young boxer will be tested.

“We’re go­ing to be get­ting him more fights un­til he ac­tu­ally leaves for na­tion­als, so the con­fi­dence will be build­ing and build­ing,” Apol­loni said. “We’re go­ing to get him fights where he’s chal­lenged. When he gets to na­tion­als, he’ll have a good chance at medalling.”

Though El­bouachraoui has been work­ing with Apol­loni for about a year, he had never been trained in box­ing be­fore. Ac­tu­ally, he had never com­peted in any com­bat form, al­though he dab­bled with muay thai and karate train­ing while liv­ing in Mon­treal.

Top Glove, how­ever, gave him an op­por­tu­nity to change that nar­ra­tive and fight.

“I started to get old,” El­bouachraoui laughed. “I’m 25, so if I don’t do it now, I will never do it.”

El­bouachraoui said he’d like to keep com­pet­ing un­der the tute­lage of Apol­loni, train­ing ev­ery day to im­prove his skill set.

And there’s no grand fi­nale to this new jour­ney, he added, no end goal that once com­pleted will put a close to this chap­ter in El­bouachraoui’s life.

“Hope­fully I’ll go as far as my body will go,” El­bouachraoui said.

PHOTO SUP­PLIED

Pa­trick Martin, Gord Apol­loni and Youssef El­bouachraoui pose for a photo at a Golden Gloves box­ing tour­na­ment in Ni­a­gara Falls.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.