Local boxer brawls for the big leagues

Shea Heights fighter steps into the the college ring.

For young Seamus O’Brien, his hard work is starting to pay off. The local boxer is making name for himself on the mainland. Supplied photo

Josh Hodder

In the world of boxing, one young local is trying to punch his ticket to stardom.

Seamus O’Brien is a boxer who was raised in Shea Heights, a working-class neighbourhood on St. John’s southside. The 19-year-old fights at the heavyweight level in the National Collegiate Boxing Association. For O’Brien, his love of boxing started at a very young age.

“I was first introduced to boxing by my father, and my uncle was a pro,” said O’Brien. “Everyone in my family just loved combat sports and it brushed off on me. I ended up starting myself when I was 11 years old and I’ve loved it ever since.”

O’Brien started his training at the TRC Boxing Club in Torbay. The club is named after the Torbay Recreation Centre where the fighters train. In his early years, O’Brien found himself under the tutelage of national and provincial boxing hall of fame member Hank Summers.

“Back in those days, you could tell he had ability and could be a great boxer if he wanted to stick with it,” said Summers. “He was a little bigger than most of the kids and he’s grown into a sizeable young lad. Now he’s training with people in his size and weight class. A good learning experience for sure.”

Everything changed for O’Brien when he came across Crandall University in Moncton, N.B.

“They offered 75 per cent tuition and they had boxing as a varsity sport,” O’Brien said. “I ended up getting in contact with Jon Ohlhauser, the head coach. He asked me for clips from my previous fights and liked what he saw.”

He was eventually offered a full scholarship.

Since then, O’Brien has been fighting in the heavyweight division at 91 kilograms. He and his Crandall teammates travel across North America competing.

“We fight under NCBA, which is considered division one,” said O’Brien. “With Crandall being the only varsity boxing team in Canada, we usually travel to the states and all across Canada. We were just down in New York.”

It was in New York where O’Brien picked up his most recent victory.

“I ended up fighting a guy from Westpoint Academy,” said O’Brien. “I won by unanimous decision. I fought there last week and that was my latest win.”

Not every day calls for a celebration. O’Brien faces his own challenges in the world of boxing.

“One of the biggest challenges for me has been the weight cutting,” O’Brien said. “If you don’t make your specific weight, you can’t fight. With every fight I go to, I must be on weight. It takes a lot of discipline.”

O’Brien has big dreams of taking his boxing career to the next level.

“My goal as a fighter is to make the Canadian national team,” said O’Brien. “I’m hoping the scholarship will help me obtain the skills to compete at the national qualifier. After that, the Olympics. I’d love to compete in Paris.”

Those Games happen in 2024.

With each bout, his dreams move closer to becoming a reality. In October, he’ll take to the ring to represent Canada and Crandall University at the International Sports Federation World Boxing Championship in Russia.

“I’ve been chosen to go represent in the 81 kilogram weight class in Russia,” O’Brien said.

Summers still follows his former pupil.

“You’ve got to be able to get in the ring and face all kinds of adversity, and he does that,” Summers said. “I think this scholarship is really going to turn things around for him.”

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