Athletes from Duncan’s Black Box MMA brought home a gold medal, two silvers and one bronze from the Crusher Combat Sports Be First Championships in Langford on March 25.
Austin Henry-Maiale, 18, won gold in the 160lb boxing division. Ten-year-old Addy Webb took silver in the 9-11 no gi division, the same status gym owner Shane Jung achieved in the 160lb advanced no gi division. Thai Pham claimed bronze in the novice kickboxing division, and Stephen Najera finished fourth in the open weight advanced kickboxing division.
Henry-Maiale and Webb both joined the gym around the same time, about two years ago, and have had successful runs since then.
Between boxing in the ring, tournament boxing and tournament kickboxing, Henry-Maiale has competed five times in total, going 5-0. He followed his friend Trent (T-Bomb) Dunlop into the sport.
“T-Bomb was the catalyst for me,” he said.
Henry-Maiale wants to get in a few more amateur boxing matches and maybe go back into kickboxing. His next boxing match in the ring is scheduled for late May. He particularly enjoys the intellectual side of combat sports.
“It’s challenging mentally,” he said. “It’s a bit of a puzzle. I guess it’s called ‘discipline’ — you’ve got to put a lot of work into it, and you’re still not guaranteed to get something out of it. It’s hard.”
Webb has only done grappling so far, as Jung believes she is a little young to be taking head contact. She has gone 8-3, although Jung takes the blame for one of those losses. Her only other losses were to boys who were older and bigger than her. Only three of her fights so far have been against other girls. Even the boys from Black Box don’t enjoy training against Webb.
“All the boys in here have to deal with her, and it’s not fun for anybody, including me,” Jung said.
Webb has her sights on making it to the biggest show in combat sports: the Ultimate Fighting Championship. She enjoys the fact that not every 10-year-old girl is involved in kickboxing.
“It’s a unique sport, and it lets me use my strength on other people,” she said.
Jung shrugged off his own silver medal, preferring to focus on the achievements of his students.
“I’m more excited for them than for myself,” said the proud trainer.
Henry-Maiale and Webb are among the most promising fighters Jung has trained, he said, and they’ve invested themselves in Jung’s gym.
“Austin and Addie help everybody,” he said. “When I think about the Black Box team, these two are the future.”
Najera, who was the first Black Box athlete ever to compete, in November 2013, and who is undefeated in mixed martial arts was competing in the toughest division at the Be First competition. His first opponent, Jung said, was a “giant,” well over six feet tall, and the second was a high-level kickboxer. He also had a unique excuse for not being at his best.
“In his defence, his sister had a baby the night before,” Jung said. “He was up until 3:30 a.m.”