What's Buzzing:

The Eh Game

Having long-time coach in London gives boxer Mary Spencer extra confidence for first Olympic bout

Jim Morris
Eh Game

View photo


Mary Spencer (Courtesy The Canadian Press)

Boxer Mary Spencer will take a little extra confidence into the ring Monday when she makes her Olympic debut at the London Games.

Spencer's long-time coach Charlie Stewart from the Windsor Boxing Club has been brought to London even though he isn't an official team coach.

"It wouldn't be the same if he wasn't here,'' Spencer, 27, told the Toronto Sun. "He's been there with me for 10 years. How could I not have Charlie here?

[Slideshow: Women's boxing makes Olympic debut]

"Just the comfort of having him around, because when I'm nervous I want someone who's familiar around. I take what he says to heart. He's an amazing coach. He's a master at strategy. He can pick apart fighters. He can find their weaknesses. He knows what to do to exploit them."

Funding from Own the Podium helped pay to have Stewart flown to London. Boxing team officials also had Stewart attend pre-Olympic training in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Team massage therapist Ricardo Santia has been working on the veteran trainer's sore hips and back so he can work the corner with coach Sylvan Gagnon for Spencer's fights.

Spencer, a three-time world champion, meets Li Jinzi of China in her first bout. A win puts her in the medal round.

Li was the 75-kilogram world champion in 2008. Spencer won the world title in the 69-kilogram group that year. Spencer defeated Li 14-2 in the final at the 2010 worlds.

[Related: Heymans fails to make splash in final Olympic event]

Daniel Trepanier, Boxing Canada's high performance director, said no one is taking Li lightly.

"We know it's not the same girl," she said. ''The Chinese put a lot of money on their program for boxing and she's way better than she was for 2010.

''But it's been a long time since I've seen Mary in this condition. I think not going into the Olympic as the No.1, she's more angry than ever to take her place back at the top."

Spencer was the focus of a lot of attention leading up to the Olympics but Canada's two male boxers have packed a punch of their own at the Games.

Simon Kean, a super heavyweight from Tois-Rivieres, Que., defeated Tony Yoka of France last week and faces Kazakhstan bruiser Ivan Dychko Monday.

Welterweight Custio Clayton of Dartmouth, N.S., who has already won two bouts and now faces European champion Freddie Evans Tuesday in the quarter-finals. If Clayton defeats the Welshman, he's guaranteed a medal.

[More: Canadian sprinter Justyn Warner already thinking of 2016]

The last time Canada won a medal at the Games was 1996. Canada had not even won an Olympic bout since 2004 in Athens.

Spencer almost didn't get to fight in London. She lost her opening bout against Sweden's Anna Rosalie Laurell at the women's world boxing championships in China. Two automatic Olympic spots were available to be won by boxers from the Americas at the championships.

The Wiarton, Ont., native finally had her ticket to London punched when the International Olympic Committee's Tripartite Commission decided to give her the lone wild card berth in the 75-kilogram class.

Stewart hurt his hip years ago and could hardly walk at one time. He's happy to be able to work Spencer's corner even if he's unable to climb up into the ring.

''I feel a lot better," Stewart said. "I know Mary wants me in the ring. So I have to do what I can to be there."

More London Olympics coverage on Yahoo! Canada Sports:
Photos: Weightlifters facial expressions
Video: What's next for Michael Phelps?
Ryan Cochrane, Karen Cockburn were not robbed
Olympic officials crush the dreams of Canadian equestrian

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Pinturault leads Hirscher after 1st run of WCup opening GS

      Alexis Pinturault of France and Marcel Hirscher of Austria continued their giant slalom dominance from last season as they finished 1-2 in the first run of the season-opening World Cup race on Sunday. Pinturault led the defending overall champion … More »

      AP - Sports - 4 minutes 36 seconds ago
    • Australia's Minjee Lee wins Blue Bay LPGA in China

      Australia's Minjee Lee wins Blue Bay LPGA in China

      Minjee Lee got up-and-down one last time at Jian Lake on Sunday to win the Blue Bay LPGA for her second victory of the year and third in two seasons. The 20-year-old Australian chipped to 3 feet from the front runoff area on the par-5 18th for her … More »

      AP - Sports - 4 minutes 36 seconds ago
    • Bangladesh stay alive in chase of 286 to win test

      Bangladesh stay alive in chase of 286 to win test

      (Reuters) - Bangladesh lost the top half of their batting order before tea as they chase 286 for victory against England on the fourth day of the closely-contested opening test at Chittagong on Sunday. With captain Mushfiqur Rahim (22) and Sabbir … More »

      Reuters - 47 minutes ago
    • Cubs fans dare to dream as Chicago's 'lovable losers' go to World Series

      By Nick Carey and Timothy Mclaughlin CHICAGO (Reuters) - Jubilant fans of the Chicago Cubs erupted in celebration on Saturday when the franchise clinched a berth in this year's World Series, pumped up by the dizzying prospect that their team could … More »

      Reuters - 1 hour 23 minutes ago
    • Sunderland match unwanted 110-year milestone

      Sunderland match unwanted 110-year milestone

      Sunderland became the first top-flight club in more than 100 years to fail to register a win in any of their first nine league games in two successive seasons when they suffered a 1-0 defeat by West Ham United on Saturday. Winston Reid's goal deep … More »

      Reuters - 1 hour 30 minutes ago