“Lights Out at the Libro” coming this Saturday



By Ron Giofu


A full night of amateur boxing is coming to Amherstburg this Saturday.

The Fighting Island Boxing Club is hosting “Lights Out at the Libro” with a full card of fighters scheduled to compete in Rink A at the Libro Centre. As of press time, there were 16 boxing matches on the card.

“We’ve got six local kids fighting on the show,” said FIBC owner/coach Joe LeBlanc. “We’ve got gyms coming in from Brampton, Brantford, Toronto, Sarnia, Burlington, Windsor and Michigan. We’ve got several fighters coming from Detroit.”

Among the local fighters will be Brandon French (88 lbs. weight class), Jesse Carter (130 lbs.), Eric Leardi (200 lbs.), Tyson Whalen (165 lbs.), Carter White (117 lbs.) and Nate DiPasquale (150 lbs.).

“It will be a good show,” said LeBlanc.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and the fights begin at 7 p.m. Seating will be on a first come, first served basis. Tickets are $20 and will be available at the door.

There will be a 50/50 draw, door prizes, food and a cash bar as well.

“Come early, get seated and enjoy a beer,” said LeBlanc.

LeBlanc added that it is a chance to highlight local talent. He said everyone is excited and looking forward to Saturday night’s show.

“It’s to showcase kids from our community,” he said.

Any money raised will go right back into the Fighting Island Boxing Club, LeBlanc added. Money is used to help fund out-of-town trips to tournaments and other fights.

One such out-of-town trip was last weekend when French fought the Irish national champion in Toronto. Though he didn’t win, French was happy for the experience.

“I lost my fight to the best in Europe,” said French. “I thought I did really well. It was a good experience overall. I got to meet a lot of people from a different country.”

French said he was proud of how he fought and “I’m proud of the end result.”

Whether it be in Amherstburg or elsewhere, French added he enjoys getting into the ring.

“I happy to just fight,” he said. “A fight is a fight. Win or lose, I’ll take it.”

Three local boxers bring home gold medals from Ontario Winter Games



By Ron Giofu


A trio of fighters from Amherstburg’s Fighting Island Boxing Club won gold medals at the recent Ontario Winter Games.

Spencer Quinn, Brandon French and Tiago Balteiro participated in the March 1-4 competition and all took the top spot in their weight categories. Quinn won in the 69 kg category.

“I feel great about it,” he said. “I won the Ontario Winter Games. I was confident the whole way. I trained hard for this competition and it paid off.”

Quinn said it is the second biggest win of his career next to the provincial title he won. He does not know when his next fight is.

French also has this accomplishment near the top of his list, as he won gold in the 38 kg division.

“My fight only lasted one round,” he said, adding it was a 53-second TKO.

French started the fight fast and caused a standing eight-count to be administered to his opponent before finishing the fight off.

“’Just keep throwing’ is what I was telling myself,” said French.

Three fighters from Amherstburg’s Fighting Island Boxing Club won gold at the recent Ontario Winter Games. They include (from left): Spencer Quinn, Brandon French and Tiego Balteiro.

French trains daily at the Amherstburg gym and is not sure when his next fight is either, but thinks it could be in the next few weeks in London.

Balteiro fought in the 80 kg class and said it was against a tough opponent.

“It was a hard fight,” he said. “I fought well.”

Balteiro said he gave his opponent a standing eight-count in the third round.

“I thought it was one of my best fights,” he said, calling it his biggest win. “I fought older fighters.”

Noting he was relaxed in the ring, Balteiro added “it felt like another day at the office.”

Balteiro said his next fight will be in London March 24.

Fighting Island Boxing Club owner/coach Joe LeBlanc said the Ontario Winter Games was based in Orillia but the boxing matches were held in Midland. There were 3,500 athletes in all with participants marching in under banners for their respective sports.

LeBlanc was pleased with how things went for his fighters.

“I was very happy, very pleased,” he said. “The kids worked hard. It proves when you work hard, things happen. It was a great experience for the kids. It was like a mini-Olympics.”

Amherstburg’s Fighting Island Boxing Club does well at Brampton Cup



By Ron Giofu


A group of seven fighters from Amherstburg’s Fighting Island Boxing Club all came home with medals from the recent Brampton Cup competition.

Club owner/coach Joe LeBlanc called the Brampton Cup one of the biggest tournaments in Canada, noting it has been running for over 30 years and drew fighters from Nova Scotia, Quebec, British Columbia and New York.

“It’s getting bigger and bigger every year,” he said, noting it uses three rings for three days.

According to LeBlanc, local results saw Brandon French win gold, Jesse Hassen winning bronze, Kaelob Drouillard taking silver, Alex Weaving winning gold, Moise Cercel winning bronze, Luca Coppola winning gold and Tyler St. John Worth winning bronze. Age divisions of the local fighters ranged from 11-years-old to senior fighters in their early 20’s.

“That’s pretty good,” said LeBlanc. “Everybody medalled.”

Brandon French, Jesse Hassen and Moise Cercel were three of the local fighters that did well at the recent Brampton Cup tournament.

Brandon French, Jesse Hassen and Moise Cercel were three of the local fighters that did well at the recent Brampton Cup tournament.

French, Hassen and Cercel were on hand last Monday night training and felt good about how they did.

French said he was nervous heading into his first fight but those nerves went away once he stepped into the ring.

“I knew after I got into the ring that all the hard work paid off,” he said. “I feel that I did pretty well.”

“I think I did pretty well for my first fight,” added Hassen.

Hassen said he is “pretty happy with how I did” though said there is room for improvement. He believes he could have got the gold in his division if he trained a little harder.

“I’m not proud of how I did. I could have done better,” said Cercel. “I should have taken it more seriously and trained harder.”

Cercel said “there’s always another fight” and plans on working harder to ensure he achieves the success he feels he is capable of. He said he enjoys boxing but needs to remember there are other skilled fighters across the ring from him too.

Local boxers do well at provincials



By Ron Giofu


A group of fighters from Amherstburg’s Fighting Island Boxing Club returned from the recent provincial tournament with medals.

Moise Cercel lost a split decision in his third fight and came home from Toronto with a bronze medal in the senior 152 lbs. weight class. Caleb Drouillard had two fights and came home with a gold medal in the 132 lbs. weight division.

Jacob Robinson lost his fight in the elite open division but still came home with a bronze medal while James Durocher won silver in the 132 lbs. weight class.

Spencer Quinn won silver in the 64-68 kg. weight class while Brandon French travelled with the group but he was unable to have an opponent located for him.

“It was an exceptional weekend,” said LeBlanc.

Spencer Quinn, Brandon French and Jacob Robinson were three of the Amherstburg's Fighting Island Boxing Club's medalists at the recent provincials.

Spencer Quinn, Brandon French and Jacob Robinson were three of the Amherstburg’s Fighting Island Boxing Club’s medalists at the recent provincials.

LeBlanc said fights went for four days the weekend earlier this month with “hundreds of athletes” on hand competing for medals.

Quinn said it was his second fight and he was pleased with how he performed.

“I did pretty well,” he said. “I was nervous going in. I learned I can’t be nervous and to put my hands up.”

The 13-year-old looks forward to his next fight in Ajax in a couple of weeks as does Robinson. Robinson said it was his first fight in the elite open division but noted “I’m fighting the best fighters in the province.”

Even though he lost, Robinson saw the positives.

“You learn more from losses than you do from wins,” said Robinson.

Robinson was happy with how the weekend went, noting he learned about moving his head more, standing on his toes and keeping his hands up.

French, who couldn’t get a fight in his 70 lbs. weight class, said it was still a worthwhile weekend for him.

“It was fun. I saw new things from other people that I’d like to try in the ring,” he said. “It helped me out. It was a great learning experience. I was really happy I went.”

LeBlanc pointed out he doesn’t have close to the talent pool to draw from as clubs in the larger cities like Toronto do, but he said his fighters still did very well.

“It speaks volumes for the community,” he said. “It speaks volumes for the kids and their heart and determination. You need to have heart first. You can’t teach heart.”

Local boxers do well at Ontario Summer Games


By Ron Giofu


A trio of local boxers came home with medals after competing at the recent Ontario Summer Games (OSG).

Kaleob Drouillard and Jacob Robinson each captured gold medals in their respective age categories while Payton Holan brought home a silver medal. The OSG was held Aug. 11-14 in Mississauga.

The local boxers came from Amherstburg’s Fighting Island Boxing Club with owner/coach Joe LeBlanc stating there were 3,400 athletes overall. He compared it to a “mini-Olympics” complete with opening ceremonies where athletes coming in under the banners of the sport they were competing in.

“It was really cool,” said LeBlanc.

Robinson fought in the defending Ontario champion in his weight class, Louie Reyes out of Toronto, and came away with a split decision victory. It was a measure of revenge for Robinson, who lost to Reyes in the Ontario finals.

“It was definitely redemption,” said Robinson. “I definitely didn’t want to leave it to another close decision. I wanted to make sure that I won and I did what I had to do.”

Kaleob Drouillard (left) and Jacob Robinson won gold medals at the recent Ontario Summer Games in Mississauga. Payton Holan (absent from picture) won a silver medal.

Kaleob Drouillard (left) and Jacob Robinson won gold medals at the recent Ontario Summer Games in Mississauga. Payton Holan (absent from picture) won a silver medal.

For Drouillard, it was his first tournament but he clearly got off to a good start. He defeated Unan Carcaro of Brampton by unanimous decision.

“At first, I was very nervous,” he said.

Once the fight started, he felt good and winning his age group gave him a boost of confidence going forward.

“It was my first tournament and I got my first gold medal,” said Drouillard. “I’ve got visions of getting more and more and to get better and better.”

Holan won his first fight against Brecken Lavallee from Sarnia but lost in the gold medal match against Christian Freitas of Toronto.

LeBlanc said many of the other clubs the Amherstburg Fighting Island Boxing Club was competing against have a lot more people to draw from, so he was pleased with how his fighters did.

“We continue to go to provincial competitions and come home with gold medals,” said LeBlanc. “We go to these places with millions of people to draw from. It speaks volumes of the kids in this community. It really does.”