Thoughts of boxing might conjure up images of two fighters, duking it out, trading blows while fast on their feet.
But how about two people in wheelchairs? Or people who have undergone amputations? Or even brain injuries?
Peggy Mayers, owner and coach of the Bulldog Boxing Centre in Salmon Arm, B.C., hosted a special event this past weekend for adaptive boxing.
It’s a way for the sport to be more inclusive for those who might be kept out of the ring by a physical disability.
“The whole point is boxing is truly adaptable, including competition, and it can be made safe,” Mayers told CBC Radio West’s Leah Shaw.
“And I felt like this was the one piece that just wasn’t there yet in our sport. And here we are today. We’re making history.”
The weekend event saw people come from far away, including Colin Wood, CEO of the Great Britain Adaptive Boxing Council.
He described adaptive boxing as a sport that focuses on scoring points during fights. That, he said, minimizes physical risks to the fighters.
“This is about inclusion, it’s about a wide variety of disabled people to be able to be included,” Wood said. “Most sports have not got [that] correctly at the moment.”
‘Boxing changed my life’
Samantha Twining, from Philadelphia, was paralyzed 11 years ago in a car accident. She has been in a wheelchair since, and said she struggled at first.
“I didn’t participate in sports before my accident. So, it wasn’t something I was looking to,” Twining said.
“Boxing changed my life, my self-confidence … I would like to show other people that they can do it, too.”
Christopher Middleton, a British veteran of the war in Afghanistan, lost his legs in an explosion in 2011.
“As you can imagine, it was quite tough to get free, obviously, with the PTSD and just generally not knowing the way of life I was going to go down,” Middleton said.
“Sport was a massive thing for me, so was my scuba diving, but now I’ve got boxing. It’s something else to pass on to anybody else who thinks negatively about their situation or their injury.”
Wood is hoping to grow adaptive boxing and have his organization accredited by the World Boxing Council as the official body.
As for Mayers, she wants the sport to head to the biggest stage of all.
“Paralympics, look out, because we’re coming for you,” she said.
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