The Spruce Capital Boxing Club is dropping its affiliation with Boxing B.C. and is signing on with the British Columbia Combative Sports Association.
Wayne Sponagle, Spruce Capital's head coach, had grown weary of the politics within Boxing B.C. and decided to take the club in a new direction. The B.C. Combative Sports Association -- or Combsport -- is based in Vancouver and has been operating since the summer of 2009.
"Combsport embraces the whole fight community [including Mixed Martial Arts], and they've got what I think are true-blood, honest boxing people involved -- guys like [former Olympian] Manny Sobral and Dale Walters, who was a great B.C. amateur who went to the Olympics," Sponagle said. "What I like about Combsport is that they're a lot more pro-oriented."
Under its umbrella, Combsport does have clubs that produce Olympic-style amateur boxers but it also has what Sponagle calls "pro-style amateur boxing" for elite senior-level fighters.
"When they compete, they compete with no head gear and no tank tops, so it looks just like pro boxing," he said.
Sponagle is organizing a local fight card for the night of March 2, a card that will give P.G. pugilist Thomas Speirs his first opportunity to box as a pro (see other story). The event will be sanctioned by Combsport and, if everything goes according to plan, will feature five amateur bouts and five pro-style fights.
"I'm going to have two B.C. championship [pro-style] fights, which are five-rounders," Sponagle said.
In Sponagle's view, Combsport is breathing new life into boxing in B.C.
"Amateur boxing for the last 15 years hasn't been a good, fan-friendly sport," he said. "It's not exciting when [referees] don't let them fight. They're always warning them and stopping them and the fans don't like that. When people go to boxing matches, they're going just to see damn good fights. That's what they want -- they want action and excitement."
The Spruce Capital Boxing Club is the oldest boxing club in the city. Over the years, it has produced local legends like Jack Meda, Sid McKnight and Laurie Mann.
-- PETERS, Citizen staff