The BC Bronze Gloves boxing tournament takes over Oceanside Place May 28 and 29, and for one local female fighter, the opportunity to climb through the ropes and compete in front of family and friends takes on a special feeling, as there was a time not that long ago when it looked like a rare disorder was going to TKO her career.
Talk to Madison Hicks, 15, and it becomes evident early her road to the ring has not been easy, and that she, perhaps more than any other fighter there this weekend, truly appreciates the chance.
“Oh yeah. For sure,” she chuckled easily from the backyard of the family home in Parksville during a one on one with The News recently. “I can’t wait.”
The oldest of two and in Grade 10 at BSS, Madi, or Goldibox as one fan has dubbed her, is in her third year of boxing under head coach Barry Creswell at the Nanaimo Boxing Club, but there have been some hurdles, some detours, along the way.
First the boxing.
“She said she wanted to try it so we enquired about it,” dad Grant said when asked how it started, adding, “she took a liking to Barry and his training methods, and away she went. The tough part is finding a competitor her age and weight class (60kg Female).”
Madi, who trains in Nanaimo three days a week, made her official debut in the ring the beginning of May when she traveled to the mainland for an exhibition bout in the Golden Gloves Competition and more than held her own against 20-year-old River Tucker out of New West.
Exhibition matches are strictly meant to give boxers experience in the ring and while there is no official winner or loser, Madi more than held her own.
“It was a good tough bout for three rounds,” said dad, who works her corner.”She got a couple hooks in and the other got called for a couple low blows. She was nervous, but at the end of the match she felt good she had a great experience and wants to keep on going.”
Her mom Kim has gone to some workouts with her and Brother Austin, 12, wants to get into it.
NBC has hosted the BC Golden Gloves a couple times; in the mid-70s and also in the 80s.
Asked his take on Goldibox, the veteran coach and mentor said “she throws hard punches and she has a wicked hook.”
Madison was a competitive swimmer, played volleyball, soccer and baseball before discovering boxing.
“I just love it,” she smiled.
Along the way, Madison had a major ankle injury a year ago and was in and out of hospital, so she switched from orthodox to a southpaw.
“Translation: She has a solid jab — trust me, I’ve felt it a few times,” joked Barry.
“She’s is an exceptionally good person,” Barry said easily when asked for some insight into Madi. “Big heart, just a well balanced young lady, and as a boxer she’s tough as nails — she’s had to fight through a lot.”
Her toughness, he said, “is an inspiration to all of us for what she’s been able to come back from. She’s a natural little boxer, nice and smooth, and she packs some pop.”
All this from a girl who a few years ago was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, also known as CRPS or CRIPS.
The problem surfaced in Grade 6 when the pain from a sprained ankle spread up through her entire right leg.
In Grade 7 she fractured her right arm and later re-injured the sprain on her right ankle sprinting on concrete. They missed the fracture on the X-ray then a month later they found it in a bone scan.
She thought she was on the mend, but the pain came back with a vengeance out of the blue one day while taking in the 2010 Winter Olympics with family.
From Jan. 2010 to Nov. 2010 “I didn’t do any sports,” she said, adding she spent the whole summer in and out of treatment at Nanaimo General Hospital getting treated, to no avail.
The family booked an appointment for her at Vancouver Childrens Hospital.
“They said they’d help me, but they basically closed the door on me when they couldn’t figure it out,” she recalled, adding “They knew what was wrong with me, they just didn’t know how to treat it.”
That all changed, she said, the day she met Dr. Alan Berkman out of the regional pain management program at NRGH.
“He’s phenomenal, he did an amazing job,” she said, adding, “he was the only person that took me in … he got me to learn about it, and basically he taught me that I have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, but it doesn’t have me.”
She said she hasn’t had any treatments since Aug. 2010, “but I have to do physio every single day.”
“I try not to think about it,” she added. “Actually I don’t give it any power at all. I’m cautious … if I feel a little bit of pain, I stop.”
Mom, dad and brother, she said, have been a big help in terms of keeping her spirits up.
“I think the hardest part was having to spend all that time alone at home, the isolation, because it’s such a rare disease,” she said.
Through it all, she said, “getting back to boxing was always on my mind.”
Her long-term goal is to represent her country in the ring at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“I think it’s great — I always tell my kids ‘do what you love’,” said mom.
The News confirmed at deadline that Goldibox will be on the card at the Bronze Gloves.
“It’s going to big,” he said of the Bronze Gloves. “They come from all over the province to compete.”