TRENTON – Less than two years ago, Matt Fraser walked into the Albion Boxing Club for the very first time.
But the 16-year-old is heading to the Canadian boxing championships next week in Edmonton, the second straight year he’s competed at nationals.
Fraser, the only Albion boxer to travel to Canadians this spring – there are hopes that by 2019, a couple more Albion fighters will be ready for the national stage – won a bronze medal a year ago and would like something of a different colour this time around.
“I’m going for a gold medal (but) as long as I put out the effort and leave it all in the ring, I’ll be happy with whatever comes out of it,” said Fraser, prior to a training session this week.
A member of the 2019 Canada Games core team for this province, Fraser works part-time in his hometown of Antigonish and travels three nights a week to the Trenton club for training, while balancing all that with schoolwork.
He’s fought twice at the prestigious Brampton Cup (winning a gold medal in 2017, a silver this year) and has accumulated a lot of experience in a relatively short period of time.
Farser briefly studied the martial art of Muay Thai in Antigonish, but had never boxed prior to joining the Albion club. He has a record of 12-4 in the ring.
“He’s had 16 fights, but he fights like someone who has 35,” said Al Archibald, the head coach at the Albion club who will serve as team manager for the Nova Scotia contingent next week. “Matt’s fought at a high level for the amount of fights he’s had, so he’s really ready for nationals.”
Archibald said his protégé has progressed at a quick pace and he’s a very coachable athlete.
“He’s extremely strong and powerful for his (49kg weight class).”
Club president Jim Worthen will also accompany the Nova Scotia team in an advisory role.
Archibald, recently named Boxing Nova Scotia’s coach of the year, said Fraser has an ability to alter his game plan depending on his opponent’s style and how a match is progressing.
“He’s a little bit of everything – he doesn’t mind brawling and he can fight a technical fight. He can do either or. He’s pretty good at using his ring craft and his mind to get through the fights.”
The national championships begin on March 28.
Since he fought at nationals in 2017, Fraser has spent the past 12 months improving on his defensive game and working on the finer technical aspects of boxing.
“I’ll probably be fighting a lot of the same guys as last year, but I’m a lot more experienced, and I’ve worked on a lot of things and got a lot better since last year.”