When Bryden Travers walked into Power Boxing Club last August, the last thing on his mind was becoming a Manitoba Golden Gloves champion.
But that’s exactly what Travers accomplished last month, as he won the 59-kilogram division at Orioles Boxing Club.
The 13-year-old from the North End had been intrigued by the sport for several years, but only recently decided to give it a try for himself. It turned out he not only loved everything about the sweet science, but had some natural talent as well.
"I like the fact that I can hit somebody and get away with it," said Travers, a Grade 8 student at St. John’s High School. "It’s all fun. I love it. I like everything about it. I like the fights, sparring is fun too."
Since he started training under Jerome Peters at his club on Fife Street, Travers has gone 6-1 (only losing his very first fight on a decision that many didn’t agree with) and seen his skills quickly improve.
Travers is in the gym five or six days a week, for three hours at a time. He’s in peak condition physically, and says his discipline and self-esteem have never been greater.
Peters calls Travers "a natural."
"He’s here every day," said the trainer. "He’s putting a lot of work in. He comes even when he’s sick. I have to send him home sometimes."
At the Golden Gloves, Travers ended up being forced to move up from his usual 54-kilogram weight class to 59 kilograms because he weighed in nine ounces overweight.
But being forced to take on much bigger fighters didn’t faze him, nor did stepping in the ring with a toe that had been banged up by a mishap with some weights.
"I was fine about it," Travers said. "A fight’s a fight as far as I’m concerned. As long as I get to fight, I’m happy."
Putting his aggressive, offensive style to use, Travers won both his fights to claim the championship trophy and gold medal.
"I was proud of winning," he said. "I went in focused to win, and that’s what I accomplished."
Peters said the accomplishment was especially impressive because of the fact Travers was hobbled.
"He only had one good foot," Peters said. "It slowed him down quite a bit. He wasn’t at his best. But he kept throwing punches."
Next up for Travers are fights in Minot, N.D., and Regina in the next few weeks. He’s also planning to compete in the prestigious Ringside tournament in Kansas City this summer.
Longer term, Peters believes Travers has a chance to do well at junior nationals, and eventually fight internationally.