The punches rolled on Friday in front of a packed house at Pomeroy hotel for the North Peace Charity Boxing event, with kids, MMA stars and even councillors strapping on the gloves for the cause.
While there were plenty of talented fighters on hand for the event, the focus of the evening was on the kids and that included young Michael Schwartz, 10, who joined Travis Lussier up front to get the full fight experience. Lussier explained that fighting has given him so much over the last three years since he started, he hopes showing Michael and others the value will help them make the right decisions growing up.
“Fortunately for me, I had great parents and a great home. Like Michael does, I know his dad and his mom are great people. That’s definitely a start. Some of the kids I grew up with had a rough home. They didn’t have a home base to be safe at. I know for a lot of kids, if their home base isn’t safe they can go to the gym and they are safe there,” Lussier said.
Lussier started his pursuit in amateur Mixed Martial Arts three years ago and has lost 130 pounds since. It was after a conversation with his dad who was suffering from cancer, that Lussier decided it was time to commit to the MMA dream that he’d long thought of.
Now with an opportunity to be a role model for some of the younger fighters at Fivestar, Lussier said the important lessons kids learn in the gym will not just help them as athletes, but as people too.
“It provides them with the discipline and the drive that they need to accomplish goals that society would set as a barrier. It gives them another option other than what the streets have to offer, drugs, the party scene and everything else that’s going to misdirect their life in the wrong direction,” he said.
“It will help with will power and discipline to make the right choices. Martial arts is different than other sports, it’s an individual base, so if we wants to strike out and do something on his own.”
Schwartz added that he might like to get involved in MMA, especially after a few years ago getting to do some karate in gym class.
“We did karate in grade one. We got to smash through these little bricks,” he said.
With Michael in tow, Lussier took on Joe Westbrook during one of the 14 boxing matches on Friday, but his message to young athletes, was the real knockout blow on the evening.