Mission’s Markus Heikkila will never forget his 15th birthday.
In front of over 250 people at Durieu Elementary on Dec. 5, Heikkila battled for three rounds in the squared circle and picked up the first amateur boxing win of his career.
“It was a great birthday present,” he said. “I had a whole bunch of friends and family there and I didn’t want to let them down. There was lots of pressure, but it was super exciting and we had an awesome celebration after.”
Heikkila’s fight went to the judges, and he said his endurance helped him earn the bout win.
“My opponent came out really strong; he was a very aggressive fighter,” he said. “But he seemed to tire himself out after his big assault at the start. I started getting him back, and I had a little bit better cardio than he did and I outlasted him.”
He said months of training prepared him for the first time he got hit in a competitive match.
“When you’re up there and you’re excited and nervous, you barely notice it,” he said.
The Grade 10 Mission Secondary student has only been involved with boxing since the summer, and said it’s been a great experience training with the Mission City Boxing Club (MCBC).
“My mom was kind of opposed to it at first but it’s a sport that I was really interested in,” he said. “I like the athletic part of it, and it keeps you in great shape.”
Heikkila’s fight was one of 11 bouts put on by the MCBC to mark its 10th anniversary. He said he trains about three times a week for about 90 minutes at the club, working on sparring, cardio, pad work and bag work. Heikkila said the work at the MCBC has ignited his passion for boxing.
“They’re excellent trainers,” he said. “They watch over all that we’re doing and give us tips on technique and training.”
All the hard work paid off with the victory, but Heikkila was also awarded the club’s best young boxer trophy for 2015. Mission City boxers Seth Granger, Ivan Boyd, Daniel Fulton, Harfi Bhullar and Kabeer Poonia also had bouts at the event.
In the 10 years of the MCBC’s existence, there have been six national champions, as well as a gold medalist and bronze medalist in the Canada Winter Games. There have also been several provincial champions that have come out of the club.
For more information on the MCBC, visit missionboxing.com.