Greater Victoria fighter battles the boxing blues

Bryan Colwell's provincial title still unrecognized by keyholders to his Olympic path

Greater Victoria fighter Bryan Colwell is the provincial champion in the Combsport boxing organization.

Greater Victoria fighter Bryan Colwell is the provincial champion in the Combsport boxing organization.

Saanich boxer Bryan Colwell continues to wonder if the Olympics are a realistic dream.

The 25-year-old amateur pugilist has been training at Island MMA in Victoria since he was 17 and is currently the Fight City (Combsport) provincial heavyweight champion (195 to 220 pounds), having won that title versus Aaron Downey in October.

As the standard goes in boxing, Colwell will make his first title defence (fighters with at least one successful title defence carry a higher level of respect) before he makes a long-awaited move out of Combsport to Boxing B.C., as only the latter organization – a regional member of Boxing Canada – can offer a path to the Olympics.

“Right now (Colwell’s) in a tough place,” said coach Jason Heit of Island MMA, who represented Canada in boxing at the 1995 Pan American Games. “There’s two national bodies with Combsport and Boxing Canada, and it’s watering down the competitive athlete pool.”

Heit and many of his contemporaries believe that Boxing B.C.’s field of competitive boxers is too few while Combsport offers more fighters and a better opportunity to improve. Boxing B.C. demands 10 fights before an athlete can qualify for a Boxing Canada sanctioned national tournament (which leads to the Olympics). As such, Colwell has spent the past two years fighting in Combsport and has a record of 7-2-1.

“I’ve gone with Combsport and I was hoping I could switch over to Boxing B.C.; maybe I would have to wait out a suspension,” said Colwell, a part-time Camosun College business student.

There won’t be a suspension, but Colwell has since learned that Boxing B.C. recognizes Combsport as a combat sport and not as boxing.

“Any athlete who has competed as an amateur (outside of Boxing B.C.) can begin boxing right away once properly registered … there is no waiting period,” said Boxing B.C. office manager Colleen Bourassa.

However, Colwell needs to compete provincially for a year and cannot compete in an international tournament until he has competed in a national event, Bourassa added.

Not only that, Colwell cannot fight in both Combsport and Boxing B.C. due to the latter’s rules, so he won’t register with Boxing B.C. until he’s committed for good.

That’s not likely until at least March, so he can get the added experience of defending his Fight City belt against Downey.

So while Colwell is still early in the Olympic process, he’d like to know where he stacks up nationally and at least give himself a chance to explore an Olympic dream. And moving to Boxing B.C. will essentially mean starting over without a title belt around his waist.

“The end game is to get to the Olympics,” he said. “It’s making it harder to get to my goal.”

Combsport & Boxing B.C.

Combsport has a B.C. membership of about 2,000, about 250 of which are active. Boxing B.C. would not release its numbers, but said its membership is up 15 per cent in 2014 from 2013.