Home is where the heart is

Christopher Cameron
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Worthen returns to former boxing club, excited to see it’s still thriving

TRENTON – For Tommy Worthen the Albion Amateur Boxing Club played a significant role in his life and was like a second home.

Former Albion boxer Tommy Worthen stopped to visit the Albion Amateur Boxing Club this week during a visit home from Alberta. Worthen was the first member of the club to win a national champion, which happened in 1997 at junior nationals. 

Back in Pictou County from Alberta, where he has lived for a number of years now, he stopped to visit his former club this week.

With the season wrapping up it wasn’t as full as you would expect on a regular week, but with 12 boxers training it was still enough to get a feel for the effort they’re putting into the sport. Worthen didn’t recognize any of the faces aside from a few coaches, one of whom was his dad Jim, but he said the training hasn’t changed from his days in the ring.

“Other than the new faces everything here is pretty much the same, other than Al (Archibald) coaching. I never trained with Al,” he said. “The sparring has always been tough here and it’s nice to see the boys are still slapping leather pretty hard in the ring.

“I think our club probably had the toughest training at the very least in the province, probably even more than that. We’ve always trained hard and dad has always made sure that we were worked to the bone.”

It was that tough training that made him the boxer and man he is today. He remembers the love-hate relationship he had with the sport, the relationship most people have with whatever they do.

There were days the last thing he wanted to do was train, go for a run or cut weight. Looking back he said it was extremely difficult some days, but the rewards were more than worth it in the end – he became the first boxer from the club to win a national championship, which came in 1997 in Lloydminster.

“It made a man out of me in a lot of ways,” said Worthen. “You face a lot of adversity and obstacles with the sport, which indirectly helps with life and what not. You build a tough persona while you’re here and with those challenges it just works its way into your life habits. It has kept me clean, it has kept me busy and without the sport I probably would’ve been in trouble.”

That moment in Lloydminster was the first of many for the local boxer. That year his victory qualified him for a junior Olympic tournament in Mexico, where he represented the nation amongst 10 to 12 others. He placed third.

During that event he said it was more the experience outside the ring, than in, that he remembers most.

“Just seeing the teams from other countries come out and the parade of athletes they would do at the first of the card – you would really soak it in when you see people from different countries in their track suits and they’re coming out, it makes you feel like you’re at something really big.”

From there he went to intermediate and senior nationals, plus the Canada Winter Games 1999. He won silver at all of those, but never captured gold again.

“I still remember that like it was yesterday,” he said about his gold medal win. “I was the first boxer from our club and I only did it by one point. It was a very, very close fight.”

Worthen hasn’t been involved with the sport since he was 21, around the time he left for college and started working. Eventually he moved to Alberta for work, but sometime in the future he wants to get involved in the sport again as a coach or official to give something back to the sport that has given him so much.

He knows the involvement it took from Jim in the gym, but just as importantly outside the gym lining up cards, fundraising or whatever else needed to be done. He said his father is someone he looks up to in many ways, but specific to boxing he said Jim is boxing in Pictou County.

“He has been the face of amateur boxing in Pictou County for 25 years,” he said. “There has been no other club that has done what we do in this county or even the province alone. He has done a lot and when I was younger and doing it, to me it was just ‘that’s dad, he’s just doing his thing.’ As I got older and moved on from it, it all started to soak in.”

 

christopher.cameron@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsChris

Geographic location: Pictou County, Alberta, Lloydminster Mexico Canada

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