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Return to Train/Play: Boxing

Armed with a mandate to help promote physical literacy within youth in Greater Sudbury, Active Sudbury has partnered with Sudbury.com to bring readers a series of updates from a variety of local sports, as groups search to find ways to help keep local children active, all while remaining compliant to both health protocols as well as the Return to Train/Play guidelines of their governing bodies.

From the pandemically-inclined standpoint of Top Glove Boxing Academy head coach and general manager Gord Apolloni, the bad news is that boxing is a very difficult sport to contest without body contact between opponents.

The good news is that there is far more to the Top Glove training regimen than simply readying young men and women for combat in the ring.

“During COVID, there are a lot of sports that aren’t going,” said Apolloni. “Those kids and parents are looking for alternate ways at cross-training. That certainly fits boxing, which offers a core workout. The movement of our hips to throw a punch translates over to taking a slapshot in hockey, or taking a swing with your tennis racquet.”

“We even had a baseball pitcher who really liked the boxing training, because of the hip movement.”

Competitive boxing might not be very well suited for a pandemic - but the training behind the end product certainly is. It’s also a component that can be safely hosted at the Academy, as it was prior to the lockdown.

“At first, we were allowed five people in the gym, and then it went up to ten,” said Apolloni. “While they were in the gym, athletes had to remain within a squared area of the gym floor for the entire session, with each area separated by two metres. Athletes could not interact with each other.”

“When people arrived at the door, I would take their temperature and have them fill out a questionnaire,” added Apolloni. “Once they entered the building, they would head over to another section where they had to fill in the attendance book. They even had to put their pens in the used pen container to be sanitized before the next session.”

At the outset of the pandemic, Apolloni had contemplated utilizing some form of on-line alternative to in-house training, a plan which soon proved impractical. “It was really difficult to tell, on-line, if the punch was being thrown properly, if the knee was still bent, if both feet were moving when they weren’t supposed to be,” he said. “I was worried that athletes would return with some really bad habits.”

By the time the end of the summer of 2020 rolled around, there was at least some light at the end of the tunnel for Apolloni and company. “We were fortunate to be able to open,” noted the Sudbury Sports Hall of Famer who coached the Canadian boxing entry at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

“We got a lot of new athletes, beginners, just because so many sports were still on hold. We ended up introducing both a Beginners A and Beginners B class.”

Currently, Apolloni is doing his best to ensure his facility is completely ready, once the provincial lockdown is lifted. “We’ll have all of our programming running,” he said.

And to the surprise of some, perhaps, that is not just limited to aspiring boxers.

Orendorff and Associates