Sparring partners Tammy Johnson

Sooke Boxing Club hoping to land a knockout punch

Start up group will soon move into new digs and looks to expansion

Ten years ago, boxing changed Ellen Connor’s life.

It started with taking her son to boxing class at Olson’s Martial Arts Karate and Boxing Centre in Langford.

Now, Connor is head coach of the non-profit Sooke Boxing Club.

“It stemmed on how I found boxing in my mid-30s to how it changed my life, and I want to bring that to everyone,” Connor, 45, says.

Connor started out as a runner and after she got injured moved to weightlifting and Highland Games competition.

But it was boxing where she found real success – and quite by accident.

When she took her young son to boxing, she joined an adult’s class right after her son’s class.

“I never looked back,” she says.

Connor took her boxing to a new level by fighting in four amateur bouts, but changed focus after a few years from fighting to coaching.

After coaching at Olson’s gym, Sooke Health and Fitness and Sooke School District, she’s branched out with the Sooke Boxing Club.

The club started out of the basement at Sooke Health and Fitness, moved to Sooke Community Hall, and soon will have its own place at the old Salvation Army building on Sooke Road.

“We want to make this a community club,” says Connor, who works as a corrections officer at William Head Institution, a federal prison facility.

“The club is not all about the fighters. It’s not about the testerone and beat ’em up and bang ’em out. That’s not what we’re about – we’re empowering everyone.”

Sooke Boxing Club has more than 50 members from age seven to 70, with a good mix of children, men and women.

Some members do train to fight, while others like to train without stepping into the ring.

“The whole focus of the club is that it’s for everyone,” Connor says.

Soon the club will start a new program called box-tech which is operated similarly of karate where there is no contact.

Boxers earn coloured wraps, much like coloured belts in karate, as they progress through different levels.

“If you have a child and you’re really scared about the contact side of boxing, you can put them in boxing and do it as a non contact sport and learn the sweet science,” Connor says.

The Sooke Boxing Club is the only chartered Boxing B.C. club in Greater Victoria, and has many boxers who compete in the ring.

Boxing B.C. eased the rules last year to allow children between eight to 10 years of age to get in the ring and have a match.

“It’s a great program because it’s not scary to them anymore,” Connor says,

“It’s not the sense of getting in there at 13 or 14 and taking hard punches, while at 8, 9, 10 they’re not so hard and it’s an introductory to boxing.”

Connor says the best word to describe boxing is empowerment.

“It empowers people and makes them feel good about themselves,” she says.

For more information on the Sooke Boxing Club, please phone 250-634-4941 or email ellenconnor@shaw.ca.