It's a marriage made in pugilistic heaven.
Jag Seehra needed a gym to serve as home to his new boxing club in downtown Prince George and a group of mixed martial artists who want to learn how to box now have an in-house coach to teach them the sweet science of punching and blocking.
Seehra, an 11-time provincial boxing champion who represented Canada in two international tournaments, has been training fighters at the Kaiten Mixed Martial Arts gym at 185 Dominion St., for the past four months. Seehra moved back to the city four months ago from Nanaimo, his home for two years when he followed his Inner City Boxing Club coach Bob Pegues to the Nanaimo Boxing Club in 2016.
Amateur boxing has surged in popularity the past two years in B.C. The number of registered boxers in the province dipped to about 1,000 a few years ago but now there are close to 1,600 working with 15 clubs. None of those registered fighters are from Prince George and Seehra aims to change that at his new club - Jag Seehra Boxing Academy. He wants to produce provincial- and national-calibre boxers.
"It sucks that nothing is happening here - everybody wants to do it and nobody is doing it and I just feel it's my duty to keep it going," said Seehra. "Karm (Manhas) has been super-welcoming and he's letting me do what I want to do out of his gym. He's totally on board and wants to make this team happen."
Pegues, the B.C. provincial team coach, returned last weekend to his Prince George roots, where he had so much success with Seehra and Kenny Lally, and put on a two-day coaching clinic. Two coaches from the Spruce Capital Warriors Boxing Club, Diranda Collister and Chase Tuftin, as well as Kaiten MMA head coach Manhas, attended the clinic.
"There's been an explosion all over the country and it's kind of died here," said Pegues. "Prince George was always the mecca for boxing. In the 10-year period from 2002 to 2011, 80 per cent of the medals earned in B.C. came from Prince George.
"For the last two years we had nobody from Prince George at provincials. Before that we were a big part of the team all the time.
"So Jag and I were talking and we decided to try to get it going again. All through Jag's history, this was a great boxing community. Jag is just registering his first two. He's going to bring it back for us."
Seehra has two novice boxers - Robyn Grant, 19, and Jacob Brent, 30 - on the verge of getting their first fights in the next month or two.
Eight of the 60 boxers now with the national team program call B.C. home. There are still two sanctioning bodies - Boxing BC and Combsport. Combsport was formed as an alternate organization about a decade ago and it drew a number of boxers away from the longer-established B.C. Boxing Association (Boxing BC), which Pegues says helped revitalize the sport.
"(Combsport) hurt us for those years but it made us have a whole better approach to how we did our business," said Pegues. "Some of these guys (in Boxing BC) were pretty dictatorial and autocratic for a long time and it kind of shook us up.
"I'm one of the (Boxing BC) vice-presidents now and we meet all the time to talk about how we keep this an athlete-based association and keep our members happy. That's part of the comeback - the doors-wide-open attitude. Most of the clubs (including Spruce Capital) are back now (with Boxing BC)."
In the wake of her mother Betty's death last month, Candice Clark plans to keep the Shaolin Boxing Club open. Seehra and Manhas hope to see Shaolin and Spruce Capital athletes participating in a five-day Boxing BC novice boxing camp they're organizing for this summer.
Langford will host the 2019 Superchannel boxing national championships in April. B.C. will send 35 fighters to the six-day event - the province's biggest-ever team.
Any aspiring boxers interested in joining Seehra's club can call Manhas at 250-552-6310.