Meet Team Canada: 2019 AMBC Pan Am Games Qualifiers

With the American Boxing Confederation (AMBC) Qualifiers for the Lima 2019 Pan Am Games officially starting tomorrow, Team Canada will strive to prove their worth for a chance to compete at the Games this summer.  Hosted by the Nicaraguan National Federation, the Qualifiers are taking place during the 3rd of April to the 11th in Managua, Nicaragua, where the 41 nations who are members of the Pan Am Sports Organization are expected to participate.

Before the tournament begins, let’s meet Team Canada, the 10 boxers who will represent the country on the continental stage.

 

Women 

51 kg Sara Haghighat-Joo (Guelph, ON)

Club: TNT Boxing Academy

Coach: Stephen Bailey

Date of birth: June 17th, 1994

Birthplace: North Vancouver, British Columbia

Hometown: Guelph, Ontario

Height: 162cm (5’3″)

 


NOTABLE RESULTS

2019 COPA INDEPENDENCIA | BRONZE

2017 CONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIPS | SILVER

2017 – 2018 CANADIAN CHAMPION & BEST BOXER OF THE TOURNAMENT (2017)

2016 GOLDEN GIRL TOURNAMENT (SWEDEN) | GOLD & BEST BOXER OF THE TOURNAMENT

2X GOLDEN GLOVES CHAMPION


BIOGRAPHY

Sara Haghighat-Joo started boxing at the age of 16 at the Astoria Boxing Club in Vancouver, BC. She initially started because she grew tired of team sports in high school as one of her coaches had told her she would not get much playing time. It is her parents that suggested she should try out boxing. At first, she did it for the fitness aspect of the sport, but after only four months of training her coach thought she was ready to start sparring and that is when she quickly realized she was quite good at boxing. In the short span of four months of sparring, she had her first bout at the BC Golden Gloves Tournament, she won the competition in the Youth division and later on, as an Elite boxer as well. Ever since, she never looked back as she moved halfway across the country, away from her hometown and family, to pursue boxing and train with the best. She knows that every decisions she made were the right ones to get to where she hopes to get.

Sara loves the adrenaline rush she gets during the competition. Also, since it is an individual sport, she likes that the pressure to perform is on herself. In the next ten years, she wishes to competed at the highest level: the Olympic Games. If it’s not in 2020, she will keep trying for 2024. “I know it’s not an easy goal, but if it was easy, everyone would be there 😉 ”

Sara completed two years of her Undergrad in Human Kinetics. She transferred from University of British Columbia (UBC) to the University of Guelph, but she is currently taking it very slowly as she is training full-time for boxing. She would also like to become an Athletic Therapist.

 


57 kg Sabrina Aubin (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC)

Club: Boxemontréal.com

Coach: Danielle Bouchard

Date of birth: October 19th, 1984

Birthplace: St-Jean, QC

Hometown: St-Jean, QC

Height: 168cm (5’6″)


NOTABLE RESULTS 

2018 COMMONWEALTH GAMES | BRONZE

2017 CANADIAN CHAMPION

2015 CANADIAN OLYMPIC QUALIFIER (60 Kg)  | 2nd place

2014 CEINTURE MONTANA (FRANCE) | GOLD


BIOGRAPHY

Sabrina Aubin made her boxing debut at the age of 21 after seeing the movie “Million Dollar Baby”. At the time, Sabrina had been playing basketball for nine years, but a knee injury prevented her from pursuing the sport further. She then decided to set a new sport objective. The movie made her want to try boxing, a sport where her knee would not be a problem. She first started out as a recreational member, but rapidly transitioned towards a competitive level. The technique, the strategy (similar to a chess game) as well as the challenge that boxing represents are her favorite aspect of the sport.

Beyond her boxing accomplishments, Sabrina also obtained her Bachelor degree in Kinesiology at UQAM. In the future, she wishes to continue practicing boxing for fun, be a coach and spread her passion for her sport.


60 kg Irene Fiolek (Montreal, QC)

   Club: centralized at INS Québec – previously at 2B Extreme Evolution                                             

   Date of birth: October 12th

   Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec

   Hometown: Montreal, Quebec

   Height: 169cm (5’5″)

 


NOTABLE RESULTS 

2019 COPA INDEPENDENCIA | GOLD

2018 CANADIAN CHAMPION | GOLD

2018 DÉFI DES CHAMPIONS | GOLD

2017 GANTS DORÉS (QC) | GOLD


BIOGRAPHY

At 15 years old, Irene joined a boxing class in her local fitness center with a few friends from school. This is where she discovered her true passion. For three years, she only practiced boxing as a recreational hobby and in 2007, she had her first boxing bout at the chicken festival in Montmagny.

Irene was enrolled in many sports growing up. Those included athletics, judo, swimming, tennis and taekwondo. She only got attracted to boxing once she joined the boxing class at her local gym with her friends. As the classes went on, Irene and her friends were competitive with each other. Every time one would show progress, everyone else had to catch up. This was very motivating for her. Irene has a good understanding of sports and how the human body operates. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology in 2015.

The 2018 Canadian Champion is looking to participate in the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo. Afterward, she wants to make the switch to professional boxing.


69 kg Myriam Da Silva (Chambly, QC)

 Club: Boxemtl.com

Coach: Danielle Bouchard

Date of birth: April 15, 1984

Birthplace: Chambly, Quebec

Hometown: Chambly, Quebec

Height: 178cm (5’8″)

 


NOTABLE RESULTS

2018 WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS | TOP 8

2018 CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP | GOLD

2016 BALKAN TOURNAMENT | BRONZE

2014 CONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP GUADALAJARA, MEXICO | SILVER


BIOGRAPHY

Myriam Da Silva started her athletic career in soccer. She was 10 years old when she signed up for soccer practice and by age 12, she was an elite player. She played soccer for a decade and had intentions of making the national Olympic team. Unfortunately, this was not possible due to some injuries. She wanted to change sports and signed up for a cardio-boxing class in her university. She immediately grew a liking for it, because it demanded a high level of concentration. Randomly, a boxing trainer walked into the store where she was working at the time to shop and asked her if she ever considered trying competitive boxing. At first, Myriam was hesitant. After two weeks of contemplating, she signed up at a boxing club and six months later, she made her in-ring debut.

In the beginning, boxing attracted her because of its intensity, which is something her ego needs. Also, her mother was always proud of women who accomplished unexpected things. In a newspaper, they found her current boxing coach, Danielle Bouchard, who they found to be a role model. She became serious about boxing but did not tell her parents at first. She told her parents after her first Silver Gloves competition. Her love for boxing was growing at a rapid pace as aspects such as concentration, physical performance, tactics, and techniques made her want to improve. For her, boxing is not a violent sport. It’s about discipline and that is what she instills to the young boxers.

Myriam sees herself becoming an elite boxer and her dream is to compete in the Olympics. In addition to her boxing ambitions, she also has a Bachelor’s degree in school and social adaptation from UQAM.


75 kg Tammara Thibeault (Montreal, QC)

 Club: INS Québec (National Training Centre)

Date of birth: December 27th, 1996

Birthplace: St-Georges, Quebec

Hometown: Montreal, Quebec

Height: 183cm (6′)

 


NOTABLE RESULTS

2019 COPA INDEPENDENCIA | GOLD 

2018 WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS | TOP 8

2018 COMMONWEALTH GAMES | BRONZE

2017 CONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIPS | GOLD

2017 CANADIAN CHAMPION


BIOGRAPHY

Tammara Thibeault was only 10 years old when she started boxing. Originally, it was an activity that her older brother and father were doing together for fun, but eventually, she ended up going with them on a regular basis. When her brother quit the sport, she stuck to it and never looked back since! At first, she wanted to try boxing because her father is her greatest source of inspiration and she wanted to be just like him. Over the years, she developed a true passion for the sport. She wasn’t the best at other sports and for once, she was told she had potential, which motivated her to become the best she could be. Boxing has taught her the importance of patience, perseverance and dedication. For a long time, the boxing club was the only place where she felt comfortable enough to truly be herself, hence helping her build her confidence while growing up.

Besides her career as an athlete, Tammara obtained her CEGEP degree and she is currently completing her Bachelor in Linguistics as well as two minors in Mandarin and Spanish. Afterwards, she will pursue her Masters in Business and Administration.

She doesn’t know exactly where she will be in ten years from now, but if she could choose her future, she pictures herself traveling around the world discovering different cultures, languages and taking every opportunity that present itself. She would love to teach English, French or even Spanish in another country, preferably somewhere warm by the beach! She would also like to give back to the community and help more deprived communities in South America.


Men

 

56 kg Justin Parina (Mississauga, ON)

                                                        Club: Kombat Art Traning Academy

                                                        Coach: Socrates Celestial

                                                        Date of birth: August 31, 1999

                                                        Birthplace: Manila, Philippines

                                                        Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario

                                                        Height: 162cm (5’3″)


NOTABLE RESULTS

2018 LA ROMANA CUP | SILVER

2018 CANADIAN CHAMPION | GOLD

2017 – 2018 GOLDEN GLOVES CHAMPION | GOLD

2016 ONTARIO SUMMER YOUTH GAMES CHAMPION | GOLD


BIOGRAPHY

Justin was introduced to boxing at the age of seven by his older brother who was an amateur boxer. His brother would bring him to the boxing gym occasionally, but he only took his training seriously once he turned 15 years old. After being part of the junior high school football team, he was looking for another sport to engage himself into. Since boxing was a sport that he had been practicing occasionally, he decided to start training seriously and progress in it, so then decided to sign up for boxing classes with the intention of competing. In the beginning, it was hard for him to train because he was the only teenager at the club and everyone else was adults. He found the training rigorous and sparring hard because his training partners were considerably heavier than him. He even considered quitting but did not and pushed through as he did not want to quit on himself. After only six months of training, he had his first bout.

In his opinion, boxing is very challenging, both mentally and physically. He likes the idea of boxing being an individual sport. The boxer is his own adversary as he or she determines if you will win or lose.

Parina has big goals in mind for the future. His objectives are to earn a spot to compete at the 2019 Lima Pan American Games and at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and he also wishes to pay off his parents’ mortgage. In five to 10 years from now, he envisions himself finished with school, employed, earning a good salary so he can provide for his loved ones. He says he will still be as obsessed as improving then, as he is now.


69 kg Wyatt Sanford (Montreal, QC)

        Club:  INS Québec (National Training Centre) – previously at Citadel Boxing

        Date of birth: November 3rd, 1998

        Birthplace: Kennetcook, Nova Scotia

        Hometown: Montreal, Quebec

        Height: 175cm (5’9″)

 


NOTABLE RESULTS

2018 CANADIAN CHAMPION

2017 RINGSIDE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS | GOLD

2017 HARINGEY BOX CUP | GOLD

2015 KING OF THE RING | GOLD


BIOGRAPHY

Wyatt Sanford’s interest towards boxing started at the age of 11. At the time, his best friend wanted to try a new sport. Wyatt decided to go to the boxing club with him and he has loved the sport ever since!

The skills and strategy required in boxing are some of the aspects that Wyatt enjoys about his sport. One wrong move or a second too late can make all the difference! He also loves to travel for his sport, meet new friends along the way and hear stories from his coach and other athletes in the gym. Within the next ten years, Wyatt would like to represent Canada at all Major Games, including the Olympics.

Beyond his career as an athlete, Wyatt completed his High School diploma a year earlier than most and has started a double major in Criminology and Psychology at St. Mary’s University.


75 kg Nickenson Denis (Montreal, QC)

Club: Boxemontreal.com

Coach: Carl Handy

Date of birth: September 21st, 1994

Birthplace: Jacmel, Haiti

Hometown: Montreal, Quebec

Height: 183cm (6’1″)

 


NOTABLE RESULTS

2018 CANADIAN CHAMPION

2018 DEFI DES CHAMPIONS | GOLD

2016 SILVER GLOVES GOLD

2016 BRONZE GLOVES | GOLD


BIOGRAPHY

As a young man, Denis was a member of the basketball team at his CEGEP. Once he graduated from Cegep in May 2016, he made the decision to embark in the world of boxing. His mother was not surprised because as a kid, Denis used to throw punches in the air and for some unexplained reason, he was always attracted to boxing. Before getting started, Denis had the chance to do a sparring session with Montreal pro-boxer, Steven Butler. Butler told him that with practice, he had what it takes to become a good boxer. It was after this session of sparring with Steven Butler, that Denis said to himself “Let’s go, I’m getting into boxing!”

Although having started boxing quite recently, Nickenson Denis is a Gold-decorated athlete. In 2016, he earned Gold at the Gants de Bronze and Gold at the Gants d’Argent. To add to those accomplishments, during 2018, he won Gold at the Canadian Championship and Gold at the Defi des Champions.

Within five years, Nickenson sees himself as a professional boxer and to be recognized worldwide. In 10 years, he predicts he will be world champion. Before that however, he would like to become the father of a beautiful girl. Aside from that, he wants to enjoy and exploit his boxing career to the fullest. One of his favorite quotes is that of Edgar Morin “By sacrificing essentials to urgency, we end up forgetting the urgency of the essential.”

Besides his career in boxing, Denis studied police technique in Ottawa in 2011 but since Ontario’s civil Code is different from that of Quebec, he studied crime Intervention in 2012 at Ahuntsic.


81 kg Harley-David O’Reilly (Montreal, QC)

Club: INS Quebec (National Training Centre) – previously at FinalRound Boxing

Date of birth: December 21st, 1988

Birthplace: Kamloops, British Columbia

Hometown: Montreal, Quebec

Height: 185 cm (6’1″)

 


NOTABLE RESULTS

2019 COPA INDEPENDENCIA | BRONZE

2018 LA ROMANA CUP | BRONZE

2018 COMMONWEALTH GAMES | BRONZE

2017 CANADIAN CHAMPION

2017 DÉFI DES CHAMPIONS | GOLD

2016 GANTS DORÉS | GOLD


BIOGRAPHY

Harley-David discovered his passion for boxing at a young age when he used to watch Roy Jones Jr. He was so impressed by what he could do in the ring, so he wanted to do the same. However, it is only at the age of 24 that he made his debut in the sport. Before boxing, Harley-David practiced other martial arts, including kick-boxing and Muay Thai, but none of these sports interested him as much as boxing does!

Harley-David loves the strategic aspect of boxing, which he compares to a chess game: the boxer who commits less mistake wins!

In the next 5-10 years, he wishes to become World Champion. Beside his career in boxing, Harley-David also obtained his Professional Diploma in automobile mechanics at Relais de la Lièvre Pavillon Seigneurie.


91 kg Bryan Colwell (Victoria, BC)

Club: INS Quebec (National Training Centre) – previously at Sooke Boxing

Date of birth: October 31st, 1989

Birthplace: Prince Rupert, British Columbia

Hometown: Victoria, British Columbia

Height: 183cm (6’2″)

 

 


NOTABLE RESULTS

2019 COPA INDEPENDENCIA | GOLD

2018 – 2017 CANADIAN CHAMPION

2017 OREGON STATE GOLDEN GLOVES | GOLD

PROVINCIAL CHAMPION (BC)

GOLDEN GLOVES CHAMPION


BIOGRAPHY

Bryan Colwell started boxing when he was 17 years old in an attempt to get into better shape for the soccer tryouts at the University of Victoria. However, by the end of his first boxing lesson, he knew he never wanted to play soccer again and had found his true calling. Bryan always loved the sport and never missed a high profile pay-per-view fight, but growing up in Fort St John, he never had access to a gym or a coach before.

Bryan loves every aspect of the sport, including the training and dedication necessary to perform in boxing. After 12 years of playing soccer, he loved the one-on-one nature of the competition.

After becoming a gold medalist at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, he plans to pursue his career in professional boxing to become a world champion as both an amateur and professional fighter. In addition to being an athlete, Bryan is currently completing a Bachelor of Business at Camosun College in Victoria with the intent of opening his own gym once he stops competing.

Posted on: 02/04/2019