The Lillooet Boxing Club has been around for about ten years but in a way, it’s origins reach back half a century.
It was about 10 years ago that local residents former professional boxer Richard Adolph and Richard Edwards, also a former boxer who was involved as a competitor and a coach at the national level, decided to start a boxing club in town.
“I just happened to run into Roger one day and it turns out that we both had the same coach 50 years ago in Vancouver,” coach Brian Barker recalled.
“Roger’s jaw dropped. He said ‘you know a little bit about boxing… this is an omen you better come and help us out.’ So that’s how the three of us got involved.”
So, coach Patrick Reilly, from Hastings Boxing in Vancouver back around 1970, still has a hand in helping out young boxers to this day.
Barker, Adolph and Edwards started the club in the old school building, and it was a draw for young people from day one, in spite of the location.
“We started there, they kept the heat to a minimum, it was cold and dirty, it was kind of a spooky place.”
After that building was condemned, Lillooet Secondary School principal at the time Patricia Teskey found space for the club to continue at the school, where they remain quartered to date.
Participation has remained high, sometimes so high that the club has had to allow them into the gym in shifts to keep the numbers down to the maximum allowable 25.
“We’ve had so many kids in that we’ve kind of had to separate them.
It’s not just kids; there are adult members of the club two, with a mix of male and female boxers at all level – and all of them pulling for one another.
“We have a talk, about once a month, about respect and how we’re all built differently and everybody has to respect everybody here.”
Many of them are recreational participants, but there are competitive boxers as well. Again these include youth and adults, male and female boxers, who travel to competitions all over the province.
“I tell the competitive boxers these people come here and pay dues and they’re the ones that support you and I when we go stay at a motel, and I tell the recreational boxers these competitive boxers are the cornerstone of our club so support them in every way you can,” Barker said.
“And they are, they’re a huge source of pride. So we all support each other. When the competitive boxers go for a fight, they take a little bit of everybody’s heart here in the club.”
The club has somewhere around 50 members now but they don’t all show up at once and there is always room for more Barker said.