Brandon French

Local boxer heading to Scotland to compete for his country



By Ron Giofu


A fighter out of Amherstburg’s Fighting Island Boxing Club is heading to Scotland next month to compete.

Brandon French, known around the Victoria St. S. gym as “Axel,” will be part of a team of fighters heading to Edinburgh, Scotland from March 27-April 2. Fighting Island Boxing Club (FIBC) owner/coach Joe LeBlanc said both he and his 13-year-old boxer will be making the trip along with other clubs from around Ontario from such places as Toronto, Sarnia and St. Catharines.

LeBlanc said everyone that is picked to go is either a provincial champion or in the mix to become one soon. He believes they will be seeing the best fighters Scotland has to offer.

The main show is March 30 at the Lady Octavia Sports Centre in Edinburgh and hosted by the Greenock Boxing Club. The event is billed as “Scotland vs. Canada.” LeBlanc said he believes Brandon will get another fight in addition to that major show.

This isn’t the first fighter that LeBlanc has sent overseas for a major show. There have been FIBC fighters competing at shows in other countries for many years.

“You have to gain respect and everyone has to know who you are,” he said, of fighters chosen for such trips.

LeBlanc praised his young fighter and said he has what it takes to succeed.

Brandon French, 13, is heading to Scotland with his coach Joe LeBlanc next month for a boxing match.

“Anyone coming into the sport at a young age has to have the heart and dedication and he does,” said LeBlanc. “He has a chance to go far. You have to eat, sleep and breathe it and he does.”

French’s father Ken said that Brandon started boxing when he was nine-years-old. Ken said that being around the club has changed his viewpoints on boxing and that “it’s like a family in here.”

“It’s a great sport. I wish I had gotten into it when I was younger,” Ken said.

Brandon said that he is excited to have the opportunity to compete internationally.

“I’ve always been excited about it. I don’t really feel any nerves,” he said. “I’m excited to experience a different country and a different boxing community there.”

Brandon added it was early December when he got the word.

“I was training one day and Joe walked up to me and put his arm on my shoulder, looked at me and said ‘do you want to go to Scotland?’” said Brandon. “That’s how I found out.”

Brandon added he is training harder than ever, as he is not only at the gym the four nights a week that it is open, but he and Ken open the gym on off-days to get in another workout.

“(Scotland) is sending their best and I have to be at my best as well,” he said. “This is the biggest thing I’ve ever done in boxing, by far.”

Noting he has 12 fights to this point, Brandon said he is also excited to represent his country and his gym on an international stage. He said he is thankful to his coaches, sparring partners and club for their assistance.

“I feel happy that all of my hard work has paid off,” he said.

The FIBC is trying to raise $2,500 to help send Brandon and LeBlanc to Scotland. They have set up a page on, with it being found by searching “A Contender That Won’t Surrender.” The direct link can be found by clicking here.

The public is also invited to the FIBC, at the corner of Victoria and Simcoe streets, from 6-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday if they want to donate.

“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.”

Local boxers excel at Ontario Bronze Gloves tournament



By Ron Giofu


A quartet of local boxers went to the Ontario Bronze Gloves tournament and did well for their club and for themselves.

The tournament, held June 1-3 in Etobicoke, saw fighters from Amherstburg’s Fighting Island Boxing Club come home with one gold medal and three silver medals.

Nathan DiPasquale returned to the ring and fought in the 69kg weight class, winning a silver medal. He fought once.

“I hadn’t fought competitively for eight years but I fought good, losing a split decision,” said DiPasquale. “I could have won, but I was a little anxious, a little nervous.”

DiPasquale said school and work were reasons he stepped away from the ring and had only been training for about six months prior to his fight.

“I really want to get in there and see where I was at,” said DiPasquale. “It was a good test and one judge thought I won the fight.”

DiPasquale thanked the coaches as well as the young boxers at the club.

“They are really inspirational. They work hard day in and day out,” he said.

Fighters from Amherstburg’s Fighting Island Boxing Club brought home one gold and three silvers from the recent Ontario Bronze Gloves tournament. From left: Nathan DiPasquale, Brandon French, Carter White and Neo Mulder.

Brandon French captured gold in the 40kg weight class.

“I am the two-time Bronze Gloves champion,” French pointed out. “I fought pretty well.”

One of his wins was by split decision so French knows he has room to get better. It was his eighth and ninth fights overall.

“It was another fight to put under my belt,” he said.

Carter White lost a split decision in his only boxing match of the tournament.

“I got the wind knockout of me in the first round,” White acknowledged.

White believes he is improving in the ring.

“It was probably my best fight so far,” he said. “I’m more used to it now. It’s getting a little easier. I’m not as nervous.”
White added “once it’s done, it’s done” and he is ready to move on. He fought out of the 54kg weight class.

Neo Mulder fought in his first boxing match and came away with silver in the 40kg weight class. He knows what he needs to do to get better.

“It was fun,” said Mulder. “I should have punched more – a lot more.”

Matt DiPasquale coached the fighters at the Bronze Gloves tournament.

“I thought they represented our gym well. They fought with heart and determination,” he said.

Noting that Fighting Island Boxing Club members have a reputation of being tough to fight against, Matt DiPasquale said they held true to their reputation at the Bronze Gloves tournament.

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.”

Local boxers do well at Ontario championship



By Ron Giofu


Amherstburg’s Fighting Island Boxing Club (FIBC) sent six fighters to the Ontario Provincial Championships earlier this month and all six came home with medals.

The haul included four gold medals and two silver medals. FIBC owner/coach Joe LeBlanc noted the fights were at the Don Valley Centre in Toronto and featured fighters from all different weight classes.

“We had two rings going twice a day for a few days,” said LeBlanc. “We did exceptionally well.”

Spencer Quinn stopped his opponent, Riley Moore from the KAYO boxing club in Chatham in the first round for his gold medal in the 150-pound class while Jesse Hasson defeated Jackson Cook out of Cabbagetown Boxing Club in Toronto by unanimous decision for his gold in the 95 pound class.

Tiago Baltiero boxed out of the 175 pound weight class and defeated Andrew Wrzeszlz from the Dewith boxing club out of Brampton via second round referee stoppage.

Luca Cappola also won gold, beating Justin Marquez in the 120 pound weight class by unanimous decision. Marquez was out of Waterloo.

Local fighters did well at the recent Ontario championships. From left: coach Ken Quinn, Brandon French, Spencer Quinn, Carter White, Jesse Hasson and coach Joe LeBlanc. Tiago Baltiero and Luca Cappola are absent.

Brandon French took home a silver medal, losing a split decision in the 88 pound weight class to Dimitrious Maumous of Cabbagetown. Carter White lost a split decision to Luca Radan of the Bam Niagara club in the 108 lbs. class.

“All in all, they did exceptionally well,” said LeBlanc.

French said his fight was a learning experience.

“I lost but I’m not going to let it get to me,” said French. “I fought my fight and I’m going to train hard and get fired up for the next time.”

White said “unlike my first fight, this one last all three rounds.” He said there were two standing eight counts “and that’s why I lost” but remains confident and will work hard towards his next fight as well.

Quinn he was nervous going into his gold medal fight but that helped him keep his edge and win.

“I stopped the kid in the first round,” he said. “I was pretty nervous but I stayed calm all the way.”

Hasson said he stepped in the ring with a good attitude and that helped him win.

“The person I fought was a pretty good fighter but not as good as me,” he said. “I won all three rounds. I was glad with the way that I fought.”

Baltiero and Cappola were unavailable for comment.