While only in the sport for less than three years, Antigonish’s Matt Fraser is piling up boxing accomplishments as furious pace.
Fresh off a solid showing at the Canada Winter Games in February, where he boxed up a couple of weight classes (56 kilograms – kg) and just missed out on a medal, Matt recently won his second consecutive Canadian boxing championship in the 49 kg division, and was named the 2018 Male Junior Boxer of the Year, for the upcoming Sport Nova Scotia Awards, which will be presented June 1 in Halifax.
The nationals were held in Victoria, B.C. April 22 to 28.
“It was good; my first time winning a gold medal I only had one fight, this year I had two, so it was more competition,” Matt said in a May 15 interview with The Casket.
Matt said the first step towards his recent nationals’ success was “cutting weight” to qualify for the division.
“I had to put in a lot of hard work cutting weight to make that weight class,” the Grade 11 Dr. J.H. Gillis Regional High School student, who boxes out of the Albion Boxing Club in Trenton, said.
Matt noted he won his first fight on Wednesday and then the gold medal on Saturday, fighting opponents from Quebec and Alberta who he hadn’t fought before, and possessed very different styles.
“The second guy was more like a speed guy, quick, moved around a lot,” Fraser said. “The first guy was more of a brawler type of fighter.”
Matt’s dad Jason, who helps coach his son, used the phrases “more technical” for opponent two, and “less refined” when describing opponent one. Matt said his training helps him prepare for the different styles.
“The different sparring I do; sparring in different clubs and with different boxers around Nova Scotia,” he said. “If I need to box with a guy, move around and be technical with him, I can. But with a guy who is a brawler, if he comes at me swinging hard, I just step back and adapt to him. I can brawl with him,” Matt said, adding he can do so while still focusing on his defence.
Next up for Fraser is a strength and training session in Montreal for national team members, at the end of this month.
“Then, usually, there is a nice competition, an international one, to attend,” Jason added, noting those are the types of events which can really springboard a fighter’s abilities as he faces tough and, often, more experienced competition.
“Fighting southpaws at the top end of the food chain,” Jason said as an example of the challenges. “Those are the types of experiences which pave the way for these other competitions.”
Matt’s international experiences has included fighting and training in Colorado and Ireland. Trips like those and the numerous others, which always includes the three nights a week to the Pictou County club, can be difficult to juggle.
“That’s the biggest problem, school,” Matt said when asked about his time management. “Going on these trips four times a year.”
Add in a part-time job with a local Tim Hortons but, as Jason noted, that’s where the support of the different communities coming together has been “tremendous.”
“The club has been tremendous; the community of Trenton has been tremendous, our own community has been tremendous,” he said, praising the numerous sponsors and Matt’s bosses with Tim Horton’s who work around his demanding schedule.
Jason also paid tribute to the “family” atmosphere of the Nova Scotia boxing community, noting it’s not about individual club recognition, but what is best for the athletes as they make their way up the ranks.
“Everyone wants to see them be successful,” Jason said. “And right from day one, [provincial coach and former Canadian Olympic boxer - 1984] Wayne Gordon, in particular, and the other coaches recognized Matt’s potential to be successful in the sport.”
Jason also praised Albion Club head coach Al Archibald and assistant Walter Linthorne, who he called Matt’s “biggest asset.”
“Without Walter, we wouldn’t be sitting her today having this conversation; he has taken the punishment,” Jason said with a chuckle, regarding the impact the former amateur and professional boxer has had on Matt’s success … success which continues to build.