Where my Journey Began: Sackville, New Brunswick, aims to Rebuild Bob Edgett’s Boxing Club

GM Ross - The long time Sackville, New Brunswick, boxer and trainer Bob Edgett is in need of a new facility. According to Wallie Sears of the Sackville Tribune Post, “It is hoped the planned project – a brand new and modern facility – will be constructed where young men and women may go to not only learn the "manly art of self defense" but where minds will be shaped along with bodies.” To fund the project the public will be called upon for assistance in a “far flung fundraising effort.” After sixty years of dedicated service to boxing and the community Mr. Edgett should have little trouble finding support. I personally had some of my earliest boxing experiences at Bob Edgett’s Club and would like to take this opportunity to share these with our dedicated readers..

I started boxing back in 2003, while attending Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. At the time, it was merely an alternative to hockey. University life made me fat and drunk – I needed something physically challenging to counteract the beer and pizza that accompanies life as a frosh. My days as a competitive hockey player were numbered. I played one season for the University Club team, followed by a stint with the local senior team. Shortly thereafter, however, I hung up the skates for good. I tried playing in a recreational league, but I longed for a more competitive landscape.

I had admired boxers ever since I was a little boy. When I was eleven years old my family moved from Coldbrook, Nova Scotia, to the small village of Baddeck, Cape Breton Island. The boys there were a tough, close-knit group, who derived great pleasure from humiliating me on the playground. I was a coward who, when possible, would hide from my assailants, rather than face them. Back in Coldbrook fights seldom occurred. In Baddeck, it seemed everyone fought – at least once or twice. I was ill suited for my new environs. Luckily, after losing several school yard tussles and receiving numerous pointers from my father, I was able to fight back with a degree of success.

During these years of adjustment, I worked delivering newspapers for the Cape Breton Post. I remember reading reports of Mike Tyson’s comeback and idolizing the short but effective heavyweight. If I could learn to fight like Tyson, I concluded, no one would pick on me anymore. I clearly had no concept of Tyson’s talent or the work that went into attaining his skills.

Nonetheless, I was convinced that boxing would make help me in quest for boyhood acceptance. I would nag my father to let me box and I’m sure he would have if my village had a club. Eventually, he grew tired of my constant jabbering about boxing and took me to the Tommy Gordon Amateur Boxing Club in the nearby town of Florence. Although this was the only time that we made the trip over Kelly’s Mountain to visit the club, I thoroughly enjoyed my brief introduction to boxing and waited excitedly for a day when I could give the sport more of my time.

Well, that day came in 2003 when I was told about Bob Edgett. “Up the road, in a little red shed,” a friend informed me, “you’ll find a boxing club. It doesn’t even cost anything!” Needless to say, I walked up to Mr. Edgett’s the following day to begin my training. As Wallie Sears points out in his article, there was no change room, toilet, or, to my knowledge, running water. But to me, it was heaven. With the old battered gloves, on the equally worn heavy bags, Bob taught me the fundamentals of boxing. I sparred for the first time at Bob’s, earning my first broken nose. I wore it with honor. I invited friends to come watch me get pummeled. I was awful, but I loved it. “You’re too robotic!” Bob would say. “Take up basketball.

You need flexibility, basketball will help.” I did as Bob said, but eventually stopped going to the club. The winter ended and I headed to Moncton for the summer months. Mr. Edgett’s teachings, however, gave me a love for boxing that I carried forward. I trained at F.I.S.T.S. Boxing in Moncton, New Brunswick (which has recently reopened), learning all I could from George, Ray and Paul. I’ve since hopped around from club to club in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario, where I finally had my first amateur fight. I wrote my Masters thesis on the social significance of boxing in Nova Scotia. Now I’m writing journalistic articles on contemporary boxing and working on my PhD on boxing and masculinity in North America. Yet, if it wasn’t for Bob Edgett, I would likely still be admiring the sport from afar.

Article posted on 27.01.2011

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