Brandon Boxing club member Isiah Hayden will compete in the Ringside World Championships next week in Kansas City, Mo. The competition is dubbed as the largest international boxing event in the world. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
Brandon Boxing club member Natasha Armstrong will also compete in the Ringside World Championships next week in Kansas City, Mo. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
Natasha Armstrong and Isiah Hayden of the Brandon Boxing Club hope experience helps them win championship belts at the Ringside World Championships, which run from Monday through Aug. 5 in Kansas City, Mo.
Hayden, 14, started training as boxer when he was seven and has gone on to win four provincial amateur boxing titles and a Ringside belt in 2009. Armstrong, 15, started boxing a year and a half ago, and won the Cadet C national title last year. She also competed at last year’s Ringside championship and feels a lot more prepared having been there before.
"I feel confident this year because I know what to expect," said the lightweight boxer from Boissevain. "I was there last year, so I know what the environment is like. I know how the tournament works."
"There’s a lot more people," she continued. "It’s crazy. It’s way more overwhelming just because it’s such a great tournament. You could fight three days in a row or just once. You never know what to expect or who you’re fighting."
While Hayden won a belt three years ago, he really wants to re-establish himself as a top contender.
The welterweight fighter from Brandon wasn’t in good shape a year and a half ago, weighing 215 pounds. Since then, he’s taken his training much more seriously and trimmed down to 151 pounds.
He’s prepared for the Ringside by competing in bouts every few weekends in Manitoba and North Dakota this spring and he desperately wants to add a second belt to his collection.
"It meant a lot (to win in 2009)," said Hayden, who won the 11-to-12-year-old 132-pound crown. "When I was in there, I actually started tearing up because you think of all the hard work and dedication that I put into it. Finally I got rewarded for all the hard work I put into my boxing. It felt amazing holding that belt in my hands and looking at it. It was just amazing.
"It adds a lot (of motivation). I want to put up to my standards."
While both competitors feel confident heading to the States, they admit they may have to adjust their boxing style. The Americans are more aggressive in the ring, and Hayden has been working with some of his coaches on little techniques to counter their style.
Armstrong, who finished second in the 110-pound girls class at the Ringside last year, has evolved into a more technical approach and knows that may have to change next week. Still, both feel ready for the competition and can’t wait to step in the ring.
"(Winning will require taking) lots of punches down there," Hayden said. "In the States, it’s always like that. They go by the most aggressive fighter down there. I’m very confident."
"I’m excited to be going back this year and hopefully bringing home a belt," added Armstrong.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 28, 2012