'It’s in their blood': B.C.’s only Indigenous boxing team vows to keep punching despite loss of funding

Team 700 has been wildly popular among Vancouver Island First Nations youth and the team has a waiting list. (CTV News)

Inside the ring, a team of Nanaimo boxers are finely tuned athletes looking to compete and win, but recently Team 700 took a punch that buckled their collective knees.

The 10-member youth boxing club is B.C.’s only all-Indigenous team.

“Everyone of these youth are warriors,” said head coach Ivy Richardson. “It’s in their blood.”

The inclusive squad allows different tribes and genders to skip, shadowbox and spar side-by-side, but the team recently lost a key member, its financial backer.

“I was notified June 30 and it was effective immediately,” said Richardson.

“Our rent was due the next day so it put us in a tough position,” she added. “So we are fundraising so we can stay together in the interim.”

Started in 2019, Team 700 is a youth boxing club aimed at keeping children focused on school while arming them with athletic abilities they may not get without a structured group.

“The goal is just to give are Indigenous youth a safe place to get the tools they need to navigate life,” Richardson told CTV News.

The modus operandi appears to be working.

As she wraps her hands in preparation of a sparring match, teenager Kiana Peters describes what the group means to her. “It means, like, happiness.”

Across the gym, heavy-hitting 21-year-old Trent Jack says the team is like a family as he slams his fists into a punching bag.

“It’s important for, I’d say, my well being,” he says. “It’s my passion.”

Team leadership doesn’t want to publicize who their former financial backer is. The pugilists do, however, need help to stay in the ring.

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help cover their annual costs, which currently total around $40,000.

So far, the fundraiser has collected approximately $7,000.

Richardson is dismayed by the loss of funding, but is vowing to keep her eyes firmly on the future and team expansion.

Team 700 has been wildly popular among Vancouver Island First Nations youth and the team has a waiting list.

Richardson wants to expand her coaching team and get more ring time.

The head coach believes the team’s annual budget could soon top out near $75,000.

“We’ve started something really great and we aren’t going anywhere,” she said.

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