Solid season for up-and-coming local boxers

Thistletown boxers (left to right) Connor McKinley, Austin Riggs, Spencer Howard, and coach Graham McInotsh after a successful trip to the B.C. boxing championships. - Contributed
Thistletown boxers (left to right) Connor McKinley, Austin Riggs, Spencer Howard, and coach Graham McInotsh after a successful trip to the B.C. boxing championships.
— image credit: Contributed

It's been a productive year in the ring for three members of Kelowna's Thistletown Boxing Club.

Under the guidance of head coach Graham McIntosh, Connor McKinley, 17, Spencer Howard, 16, and Austin Riggs, 13, all made an impact in 2012 on the provincial boxing scene. All three boxers are coming off gold medal victories at the Boxing B.C. championships Nov. 26 and 27 in Revelstoke.

McKinley took care of business in the 69 kilo weight class with a dominant 13-3 verdict over his opponent in the final.

Howard fought his way to gold in the very tough 64 kilo weight class, narrowly beating his opponent from the Action Boxing Club, 13-12.

Riggs won gold by walkover in the 57 kg class, then for good measure stepped up to the 15-year-old age group and 60 kilo class and defeated Kelowna's A.J. Bopari in an exhibition bout.

All three Thistletown members have posted winning records early in their careers in the ring with McKinley at 11-6, Howard at 5-2, and Riggs at 9-2.

Coach McIntosh said the three young boxers share some common attributes, including a strong desire to be successful.

"It's their dedication to training that really stands out," said McIntosh. "With each result they're gaining confidence. They're not resting on their wins, they want to get better.

"They're not just recreation boxers, they see the big picture and want to be as good as they possibly can. They're always pushing me to the next level, asking what's next ?"

Among other highlights this season were victories for all three boxers Nov. 12 at the Peachland Boxing Club.

And back on Nov. 5 at the Griffins Boxing Club in Vancouver,  both Howard and Riggs rang up victories in their respective bouts.

While the boxers will enjoy a little downtime over Christmas, McIntosh will be getting both McKinley and Howard prepared for their next big event, the Canadian Youth/Junior Boxing Championships, Feb. 28 to March 3 in St. Hyacinthe, Que.

"Once they've gone to nationals and seen the level of competition they'll have a better understanding of what I'm trying to teach them," said McIntosh. "They'll see a real variety of boxing styles there, they might see something they identify with and maybe adopt a little of that into their own style. It will be a great experience for both of them."

As for McIntosh, the Thistletown coach is currently being considered for a coaching position with Team B.C. at youth nationals.



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