Staring up at her opponent, 20 pounds heavier and a full head taller, Rock Creek boxer Mimi Orr made her public debut last Saturday under the rafters of the barn at her hometown’s fair grounds. The eleven-year-old punched above her weight to kick off the Rumble at Rock Creek.
In total, 16 boxers squared off in front of a crowd of mainly family and friends, putting on a two-hour show of gut-shots, face blows, bloody noses and sportsmanship.
Cody Denunzio, a 16-year-old Cranbrook boxer, said that he got into the sport in 2015 because it was “a good stress reliever.” The former rep hockey player said he fell in love with the athleticism needed to duck, dodge and unleash punches.
Determined, Denunzio and his family drove the four-and-a-half hours for his second-ever match, (he won his first in Nelson earlier in May). Facing Kelowna’s Vincenzo Lawrence-Bertucci, Denunzio’s fists ended the bout after only one and a half rounds, or about two and a half minutes of trading blows.
“Worth it,” he said of the long drive and quick match. His goal is to go pro.
But where Denunzio’s drive was long for the fight, Orr and her older brother travel from their home in Rock Creek to Kelowna, several times a week, every week, for training. The hours of driving paid off for Ez Orr, who forced his opponent out of the bout with twelve seconds to go in the final round.
The headline fight saw Donovan Cridland, 20, of Kelowna duke it out with Dylan Clark, 18, of Cranbrook. Clark is a three-time provincial champion in his weightclass and won the rivals’ previous matchup in a split decision from the judges. On Saturday, the Cranbrook fighter took advantage of Cridland’s bad cough to land some quick blows. Between the second and third rounds of the match, Cridland stretched the one-minute rest time to find his breath.
“Sorry bud,” the Kelowna fighter mumbled through his mouthguard to his opponent, who was raring to go in the opposite corner.
“Give me just two more minutes!” Cridland’s coach, Geoff Lawrence, hollered.
After the final round, Clark took the victory, again in a split decision from the judges.
Lawrence, of Madkatz Boxing in Kelowna, was the main organizer for Saturday’s Rumble in Rock Creek. He said he hopes to bring the fights back to the Boundary next year too.
“If the people will come, we’ll be here,” Lawrence said.