TRENTON – Sadie LeBlanc was riding in her mother’s car last year when she saw some Albion Boxing Club fighters jogging along Trenton road.
“They all had their hand wraps on and I asked my mom ‘what are they doing?’ and she told me they’re boxers. The red hand wraps caught my eye and I said ‘I wanna do that,’” says the 10-year-old Pictou resident.
“When it started back up in September, I came and I loved it. So here I am.”
Ask her a question and she’ll give you an answer, as straight and true as her punishing right hand.
What do her friends think of her boxing?
“I usually hang out with boys,” she says.
“My friends that are boys are always saying, ‘good luck’ and ‘how was this?’ and ‘how was that?’ so they’re really nice and encourage me. They’re always like, ‘hit me as hard as you can’ and I’m like, ‘I would break your neck.’”
She tried soccer and dance class – says she didn’t like them – and does track and field. She might have found her niche in the boxing ring, though: club president Jim Worthen marvels at Sadie’s potential, and the coaches are so confident in her that she’s part of Saturday night’s boxing card at Summer Street Industries, featuring Sadie along with boxers in their teens, 20s and early 40s.
It is believed she is the youngest to ever step in the ring for the Albion Boxing Club, which is marking its 30th anniversary in 2018.
At the Albion club, she works mainly with assistant coach Erin MacGregor, who heaps heavy praise on her pupil: not just her hard punches (“she hits hard, she can punch. Her straight punches are her best asset for sure”), but her resolve.
“She’s definitely a firecracker in the ring and when she’s training in general,” says MacGregor. “I’m not going to say Sadie has no fear, but you’d never know when you watch her box. She’s always moving forward – you can’t back her up.”
Her mom Nadine LeBlanc has noticed a change in her since last fall.
“She’s gained more confidence. The first month or so she was pretty timid – there is, unfortunately, not a ton of girls here. But now she’s very confident and interacts more with the group,” she says.
“She never complains about coming, and talks about boxing all the time. She’s very proud of herself, which is nice.”
If Sadie gets dinged up during a sparring session, she doesn’t mind – like a soldier proud of the battle scars.
“I like my bruises. For people to be like, ‘oh, what happened?’ and I go, ‘I was sparring.’
“I feel really bad when I give them a good shot, but I mean, it’s boxing and you’ve gotta do what you gotta do.”
On her coach, Erin MacGregor:
“Erin is like, the best coach. We have girl power. We have, like, a bond.”
On Her First Boxing Match:
“You should always feel good about yourself no matter what. At first, I didn’t feel like I could do it, but now I feel completely fine.
“Everybody has that little bit of nervousness or anxiety, but for me, I’m confident, I’m excited. I’m not worried about getting beaten up or knocked out or something, so yeah, I’m good with it.”
Seven fighters on Saturday boxing card
TRENTON – A total of seven Albion Boxing Club fighters are expected to be on Saturday night’s card at Summer Street Industries.
One of them is Kirk Dorton, a transplanted Cape Bretoner who now lives in Pictou County. The heavyweight will make his ring debut against a fighter from New Brunswick.
“He’s very raw, he’s very green but he’s rough and he’s tumble,” said club president Jim Worthen.
“This is Kirk’s first fight, so it’s a real test for him. He’s anxious and eager to go.”
The card, which gets underway at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.) is part of the club’s 30th anniversary celebrations.
“It’s huge that Jim has made it 30 years,” says Shauna Fukes, a 41-year-old New Glasgow resident who will fight for third time on Saturday.
“You see all these things and you hear all these great stories and how hard it used to be. And for me, this is like a family.”
Albion head coach Al Archibald says his fighters are prepped to perform in front of their hometown fans.
“They’re good to go, pumped for their 30th anniversary,” he said. “There’s seven of them on the card and they’re ready.”