For any young boxer heading to his first national championship, it helps having a Pan American champion and Olympic hopeful in your corner. That’s just the case for 13-year-old Elmira resident Terrell Piper, who competed at the Junior and Youth Canadian National Championships in Ste. Hyancinthe, Quebec from Feb. 28 to Mar. 3. For the past three years, Terrell has been training at the Waterloo Region Boxing Academy in Kitchener, where one of his coaches and training partners is none other than 24-year-old Mandy Bujold, a seven-time national champion and winner of four Pan American gold medals. She is also training to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England.
Terrell’s father LeVar – a former boxer himself, as well as trainer for Terrell and Mandy – notes that seeing his son go to the national’s is an exciting step in Terrell’s boxing career, though he admitted he was a little nervous.
“It’s pretty nerve wracking,” LeVar said prior to their Saturday morning workout last week. “The national’s, it’s a pretty big stage – but he’s a good fighter and I’m sure he’ll do well.”
Terrell fights in the 48 kg weight class, and qualified for nationals after a strong showing at a training camp held in Niagara Falls last month. Each province is allowed two representatives per weight class, and Terrell impressed enough at the camp to earn a berth.
He was also bumped up from the Junior B boxing class to Junior C, and will be fighting boxers between the age of 14 and 16 – making Terrell one of the youngest competitors at the tournament. “I’m excited and pretty nervous that I’ll be boxing people that are older than me,” said the soft-spoken fighter.
Despite the age difference, LeVar said his son will be a strong competitor because of his ability to think during the match and find openings in his opponent’s defenses, and his conditioning is phenomenal – a result of his impressive training regimen.
During non-competitive training Terrell is at the club four days a week, but when he is preparing for a tournament he trains six days of the week, or about eight to 10 hours. That includes sparring on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and boxing and conditioning classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
LevVar said that Terrell has really benefitted from Bujold’s years of experience, and the Olympic hopeful is confident that Terrell will fare well in the ring against the other fighters. “I think it’ll be good for him. He’s been working hard in the gym, he has very good technique and he’s smart,” Bujold said, adding he does need to increase his intensity in the ring if he wants to be successful. “He’s got to want it, though. This is what everyone trains for all season, so he’s got to deal with the pressure and perform when it really counts.”
Terrell has won the national title without throwing a single punch. The 13-year-old had entered the 48 kg Junior C category, but unfortunately last minute cancellations from other provincial athletes meant he went unopposed in the tournament.