Steve McEwen is passionate about the sport of boxing but even more passionate about coaching it and how it improves the quality of people’s lives
Steve McEwen is passionate about the sport of boxing but even more passionate about coaching.
He really enjoyed competition, in fact, that’s what got him hooked about two decades ago, but what kept him coming back is mentoring and coaching the people who join the not-for-profit Sault Boxing Club located on Tancred Street.
McEwen has been a member of the club for about 18 years. Now he is the vice president and a coach.
Although boxing looks like an individual sport, it’s really not, says McEwen.
Especially at a competitive level, boxers work as a team and the Sault Boxing Club is no exception.
McEwen says he works with an excellent core group of coaches and they help each other work with members during workouts.
Phil Bye has been coaching there for about 25 years and McEwen admires Bye’s record as a boxer and effectiveness as a coach. He says Bye is an exceptional coach and has taught him a lot.
Bye and other coaches tend to work more individually with boxers while McEwen leads the workouts.
McEwen, a computer programmer by day, says he really enjoys watching other boxers come into their own and develop both in and out of the ring.
Whether they are boxing to train for competition or for fitness and friendships, he says watching their confidence grow as students train makes him happy. It’s also brought good friends into his life that he has grown close with through boxing.
Boxing, he says, is much more than getting in a ring and duking it out.
“There is much more to it,” McEwen said. “For beginners (0-5 bouts), physical conditioning is the most important aspect because knowing you can last three full rounds, there will be less self-doubt.”
Confidence and conditioning are two of the keys to success in boxing, McEwen said. And those translate well into useful life skills outside the club, too.
“That is extremely important for psychological confidence,” he said. “Amateur boxing is a three-round sprint so you always have to be in shape. As a boxer gets beyond five bouts of experience, strategy and mental toughness become more and more important as the object of boxing is to hit and not get hit. “
Most members of the club are more interested in fitness and less interested in competition but there is something for everyone at the club, McEwen said. He tries to tailor his workouts to the average level of participants. Meanwhile, the other coaches will move around the room helping participants with whatever they need supplementary instruction in.
McEwen also varies the workouts from session to session, focusing on different techniques and the muscle groups needed to master those techniques. His goal is to keep things fresh and interesting and to make sure no one feels like they are over their heads or like there’s nothing to challenge them.
“Some people find it empowering to learn the skills,” he said. “It does a lot for people’s mental health as well. I’ve seen a lot of people grow as people through this. People seem to really enjoy the structure and learning to do specific things properly.”
He started boxing in 1996 and has been part of the club since then, McEwen said.
“I’ve met a lot of people and made a lot of good friendships,” he said.
But competition is what really got him into it.
“Competition was nerve-wracking and it takes a lot to get into the ring,” he said.
As difficult as it was, it was rewarding and McEwen found a passion in himself to continue to improve his techniques and to share that spark with others.
“For beginners, being in good condition is important but, with experience, the thinking game becomes a lot more important,” he added.
That’s where the boxer improves him or herself for life outside the ring, he said. They take physical conditioning, the ability to think on their feet, slow down the action, react quickly and effectively and strategize for the long game with them through life, even through the most challenging circumstances.
The club shut down in March of 2020 to help protect its members from COVID-19 and then reopened in September of this year.
McEwen said membership is still down a bit but people are gradually returning to the club. He is hopeful that, come January, the club will be back to full membership.
Currently, the club is open three evenings a week. Workouts are for both men and women and run from 6 to 7:30 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and include a period of time for warm-up, cool-down, conditioning and techniques.
McEwen runs workouts on Mondays and Tuesdays. Another coach, Mike Hayes, runs the workouts on Thursdays.