Aboriginal boxer Mary Spencer has long been considered a gold-medal favourite for Canada when women’s boxing makes its Olympic debut in London this summer. But a shocking first-round loss at this year’s world championships on May 14 in China has left Spencer wondering whether she will even get to participate in the London Olympics.
Spencer, a three-time world champion who is a member of the Cape Croker First Nation, is still hoping to represent Canada in the women’s 75-kilogram division.
Spencer, whose father is Chippewa, was born in Wiarton, Ont. but now lives in Windsor. She simply needed a Top 8 finish at this year’s world tournament to automatically earn an Olympic berth, but she was defeated by Sweden’s Anna Laurell in a first-round bout at the event, held in the city of Qinhuangdao.
Following her loss, Spencer, a member of the Windsor Amateur Boxing Club, was hoping that at the conclusion of the tournament officials from the world’s amateur governing body would award her one of two wildcard berths into the Olympics. But she did not get one of those.
Now Spencer’s last hope of participating in London is to be awarded a wildcard spot by the International Olympic Committee’s Tripartite Commission.
A date when this spot will be announced has not been set but it is expected to be sometime in early June.
Spencer is obviously hoping officials consider her past accomplishments and not just her one fight in China when awarding the wildcard spot.
Spencer won world championships in the women’s 66-kilogram category in 2005 and ’08. She moved up to the 75-kilogram division as it is one of only three weight classes that women will box in at the London Olympics. She won her third world crown in this weight class in 2010.
Though many considered Spencer’s loss to Laurell a huge upset, it is not considering Laurell previously won world crowns in 2001 and ’05 in the 75-kilogram class.
New hockey show
A new show featuring teenage Aboriginal hockey players will debut on APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) this coming January. The show titled Hit The Ice will include 13 half-hour episodes.
The series will feature some well-known adults, including John Chabot, an Algonquin and a former National Hockey League player, guiding 20 individuals as they try to impress junior hockey scouts. The players in the series are all expected to be between 16 and 18 years of age.
As a result, Hit The Ice officials attended the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships, which were staged May 7 to 12 in Saskatoon. Show officials attended the national tournament specifically to recruit potential players to appear on the show. Individuals who were keen to appear on the show, however, could also submit a video tryout. Those that will appear will be put through a rather intense two-week camp.
All of the filming will be done in the Ottawa and Gatineau areas this July. Besides on-ice activities, show participants will also take part in off-ice team building sessions. And they will be rewarded at the end of the series when they get to showcase their skills by competing against members of a yet-to-be announced mystery team.
Hit The Ice is being financed by APTN and the Canadian Media Fund. Chabot will no doubt have plenty of valuable tips to pass on to the show’s participants. During his pro career he played 541 games in the NHL, splitting his time between the Montreal Canadiens, Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins.
Chabot later returned to the NHL as a coach. He spent two seasons, from 2007-09, as an assistant coach with the New York Islanders. Besides playing in the minors for a pair of American Hockey League squads, Chabot also suited up for various pro squads in Italy, Germany and Switzerland.
For the second time in as many years Johnny Powless has captured a most sportsmanlike player for his league. But this time it’s from a pro circuit, in the highest calibre of box lacrosse being played in North America.
Powless, who is just 19, was named as the most sportsmanlike player in the nine-team National Lacrosse League. Despite being a rookie, Powless, a Mohawk Turtle from Ohsweken, starred for the Rochester Knighthawks. He appeared in all 16 of Rochester’s regular season contests and finished fourth in team scoring. He scored 26 goals and added 24 assists for a total of 50 points.
And Powless was a relatively clean player. He did not pick up a single major penalty all season and was assessed a mere 10 penalty minutes. Last summer Powless had been named as the Ontario Lacrosse Association’s most sportsmanlike player as a member of the Six Nations Arrows, a Junior A squad.