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Local boxing club scores four medals at Quebec Open

BoxingLocal boxing club scores four medals at Quebec Open

The AFT Boxing Club, which is based in Brantford and led by coach Darryl Paquette, featured four boxers at the Quebec Open held at Laval University from May 31st to June 2nd, 2024.  

The event, sanctioned by Boxing Canada, welcomed both open-class and novice boxers. Paquette explained that, along with bringing their boxers, they also partnered with DC Boxing Academy in Guelph led by coach Sebastian Corrales who brought seven boxers of their own.

“We brought a combined team as we work very closely together [and] in total both clubs brought out 11 members. My club included Owen Paquette, who won gold, Rayon Enoe earned a silver, while Austine Bayani and Malik Donaghy-Tum, both captured a bronze each.”

Owen Paquette won all three bouts within the elite open division, 63.5-kilogram category on route to a gold medal. Photo courtesy Calvin Caron.

However, all four of the AFT Boxing Club’s boxers had strong results at the tournament, led by Owen Paquette’s gold-medal performance.

“Owen competed in three matches. He had his quarterfinals, semifinals, and final bouts, and that was at the elite open division, 63.5-kilogram category. He had some really tough matches. Owen was able to display his strong footwork and his distance against those three fighters. You could tell that he grew a lot of confidence as the tournament went on,” said Paquette.

Although he lost a split decision in the championship match, Rayon Enoe had an exceptional first tournament, earning a silver medal for his efforts. Photo courtesy Calvin Caron.

Rayon Enoe, who captured silver in the elite novice division, impressed Paquette.

“Rayon, was extremely excited as this was his first tournament. Up to this point, he’s had only about four or five fights, but [has] continued to work hard and is a really good boxer with great footwork,” Paquette stated. “He had three great performances…unfortunately, for the championship match, he lost a split decision. He was disappointed with the result at first, but ended up realizing he accomplished quite a bit for his first tournament and that he can compete with other boxers.”

Austine Bayani has been with the AFT Boxing Club since its inception and has grown steadily to become a respected fighter. He captured a bronze medal at the Quebec Open. Photo courtesy Calvin Caron.

For Austine Bayani, despite winning a bronze, it was a bittersweet tournament for the boxer.

“Austine had a great match [and] came home with a bronze medal…he was really using his jabs and his footwork [while] finding his distance and range,” Paquette explained. “But it’s going to be tough for our club as Austine is moving back home to the Philippines to continue his studies at the end of June. He’s been with us since the beginning [and has become] a close friend to us all. He’s a tremendous young man, and has a bright future ahead of him.”

As for Malik Donaghy-Tum, who also won a bronze, was praised for his perseverance by Paquette.  

“It was Malik’s first fight and first tournament. There was a little bit of nerves; going into a big venue with three rings [and] lots of people. But he came in and performed exceptionally well. He went up against a tough fighter and I think it took him a round or two to settle his nerves and box. He came in with a really good, strong third round,” Paquette said. “We were really proud of him [and] the first thing he said after the bout was that he wanted to go back to the gym and work harder. And that’s what we want, a positive attitude and that desire to get better.”

Malik Donaghy-Tum (to the left) beside Owen Paquette, won bronze. It was the first tournament as well as his first fight. Photo courtesy AFT Boxing Club.

However, a key takeaway has been the continued success between the two boxing academies collaborating on developing their boxing talent. 

“Sebastian and I are always coaching together, so we are tight-knit [and we have] built a camaraderie between the two teams, becoming one big family unit. The nicest part is hearing all the reports coming back saying this was the best group of guys we went with,” Paquette said. “The success in boxing is great, but when you see a group come together, having such a great time and supporting each other [and] cheering each other on, that’s the biggest highlight for me.”

With the success, Paquette is looking forward to strategically developing his club’s boxers.

“We are always looking to the future [and] getting the boxers more experience in club shows, and getting them into tournaments…it also [about] building and developing their skill development…and making sure they are on the right track. So, once they get into that open class, they’re prepared, and they can compete with anybody that might have 10 to 15 to 20 or more fights than they have,” Paquette explained. “Also, for me as a coach, the number one thing is [ensuring] the safety of my athletes. I don’t want to rush [our boxers]; I want to make sure that they’re progressing properly, so everything we do is [about] preparing them for the next challenge.”

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