Six Nations host to first ever all-Indigenous Boxing event

SIX NATIONS – It was fight night in Six Nations Friday as Brantford’s Bell City Boxing Club held its first boxing card on the Rez, but it will probably not be the last.

A full house of approximately 400 boxing fans were given a great boxing show featuring several Six Nations boxers and a crew of Mi’kmaq fighters from Nova Scotia’s Red Tribe Boxing Club, along with representatives from other Indigenous Nations.

“We tried to get as many Indigenous boxers as we could for the Six Nations show,” said co-organizer Bill Williams of Bell City Boxing, who along with Skyler Williams put together the Six Nations show at the Gathering Place. “I am really pleased with how it went.”

Barrie Bernard brought members of his Nova Scotia fight club to participate on the card.

“We’ve never been to Six Nations before,” said Bernard after the show. “When Bill and Skyler invite us we were excited to come.”

He brought a ceremonial arrow and quiver from his people which he gave to Bill Williams from centre ring before the first bell. His fighters brought flags of their Nation which were given to Ontario fighters after each bout.

Bernard and his father recently started the Red Tribe Boxing Club in Eskasoni, Nova Scotia.

Father, Barry, was a boxer in his younger years and always had a vision of having a boxing club in the community.

“My father’s dream was to have a club in Eskasoni,” said Barrie Bernard, who runs the club with his father. “He couldn’t find a place to have it, and chief and council stepped up and they gave us a place – chief and council really stepped up to the plate and dad and I took on the project from there.”

Bernard is happy to see young fighters interested in boxing, especially from his home community of Eskasoni.

“It’s great to see these young fighters because they develop a lot of life skills because they develop skills in terms like respect for each other and respect for themselves and even respect for adults and coaches.

“The generation now is lacking with respect and not only do they develop respect, they also develop more independence because they’re the ones that come to the gym.” said Bernard. “I find boxing a really great individual sport, so they mature in that manor, and they also get the benefits of being physically fit.”

Bell City Boxing boasts several Six Nations fighters including Skyler Williams and his daughter Lola who both won their bouts.

Making his debut in the ring was Josh Miller. Miller, who usually holds a lacrosse stick in his hands, has been working out at the Bell City gym in Brantford and felt he was ready to go into the ring.

Most on hand felt he was indeed ready, but due to being his first fight, and the Boxing Commission’s tendency to not let a rookie fighter get him or herself hurt in the early going of their amateur career, the fight was stopped in the second round after his opponent, Nova Scotia’s Lennox Marshall unloaded a barrage of blows on Miller, in a 190-pound bout. None of them did any noticeable damage to Miller but for precautionary measures, the referee stopped the fight.

In amateur boxing, two standing eight counts are enough to end the fight and Miller was assessed his second standing eight in the second round.

Disappointing as it was for Miller, he was encouraged by Skyler and the rest of the Bell City Boxing Club not to let that bother him.

“Skyler lost his first fight too,” said Bill Williams. “It happens, but you learn a lot from just being in the ring. If he sticks with it, he will do well.”

Skyler Williams and his daughter Lola were both on the card and both won. Lola, age 13, won her bout over an East Indian fighter Shika Vanshika, age 15, from Brampton.

“I was waiting backstage when they announced Lola,” said Skyler. “I could feel the ground shaking with the applause she got. What a proud moment for a father. It’s nice to share the sport with her, but I’m not like a “sports dad” to her. I let the trainers do what they do and stay out of it. But I do spar with her whenever I can.”

Williams had lost her first bout against Vanshika but made up for that with an exciting bout Friday night, which she won to the cheers of the capacity crowd. The win increases her amateur record to five wins and two losses.

It was retribution night for Skyler as well. He lost against Eric DelMonte in the 165 lb. division in their last outing together, but this time, Skyler got his revenge with a well earned unanimous decision increasing his amateur record to 9-3.

“He is good fighter and a really great guy,” Williams says of DelMonte.

Bell City’s Jennifer Williams, (no relation) defeated National Champion Melissa Mirsoane from Toronto and looked good doing it with heavier hands and her go-for-it spirit.

In a men’s 160-pound bout, Bell City’s Tim Brothwick stopped Nova Scotia’s Rein Ryan in the second round, folding his opponent up with a hard body shot.

Bell City Boxing is now planning ahead to another “Fights Under the Lights” show in

Brantford in July to showcase its fighters.

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