Walter Fred during Team 700 training on July 21. The Indigenous youth boxing team has started a GoFundMe with a goal to raise $20,000 to continue running the program. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo boxing club raising money so Indigenous youths can go more rounds

Online fundraiser set up after Team 700 has its funding cut

A coach in Nanaimo is looking to raise $20,000 in order for her Indigenous competitive youth boxing team to go more rounds.

Team 700 recently lost funding “really suddenly,” said Ivy Richardson, head coach, and she seeks to continue offering First Nation youths a safe place to learn the sweet science and life skills. She isn’t willing to stop the program, she said.

Team 700 is currently made up of 10 athletes, but there is a long wait-list and a need and desire for the program to continue, said Richardson. In addition to helping members box at a competitive level, they are taught how to “show up” outside of the ring, she said.

“We talk a lot about how are we living our life outside of the practice hours … are we taking care of our mental health, how are we feeding ourselves, how are taking care of our spirit, how are we taking care of our mind?” said Richardson.

She said the club has a school-first mentality and she makes sure youths are keeping up with their studies.

“There was I point where I was sitting at a couple of the athletes’ schools every Monday, just making sure that they were there,” she said. “I do a whole wrap-around of supports that reaches far beyond the boxing gym, so that they can be successful when they show up.”

Richardson said the money will go toward athlete and program co-ordination fees, rent and equipment. To become stronger and more sustainable, the club will need to build, she said.

“I’m seeing this as an opportunity to grow,” said Richardson. “I’m putting it out there that we would like to hire a strength-and-conditioning coach … an assistant coach and so I’m hoping that we can secure more funding than we had last time, because the program’s growing and they need that extra support.”

Trent Jack, a Team 700 boxer, says the program means the world to him.

“It keeps us out of trouble,” said Jack. “Each of us signed an individual contract to stay sober, and attend our practices sober, so it’s helped me in a very good way … It’s super fun. It keeps you in good shape, keeps you feeling young and healthy.”

Kiana Peter, another member, echoed similar sentiments, saying the program keeps her mentally sharp.

“It calms the mind and it’s fun to be here,” said Peter. “Team 700 is like another family to me.”

As of Tuesday morning, close to $6,000 had been raised. To see the Team 700 GoFundMe page and donate, go here.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo pugilist shows promise

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