Steve McEwen is passionate about the sport of boxing, but even more passionate about coaching it and how it improves people’s quality of life.
Steve McEwen is passionate about the sport of boxing, but even more passionate about training.
He really enjoyed the competition, in fact that’s what got him hooked some two decades ago, but what’s kept him coming back is mentoring and training people who join the non-profit Sault Boxing Club located on Tancred Street.
McEwen has been a member of the club for some 18 years. He is now vice president and coach.
Although boxing looks like an individual sport, it really isn’t, 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 a great core group of coaches and they help each other work with members during workouts.
Phil Bye has been training there for some 25 years and McEwen admires Bye’s track record as a boxer and his effectiveness as a trainer. He says that Bye is an exceptional trainer and has taught him a lot.
Bye and other trainers tend to work more individually with the fighters, while McEwen leads the workouts.
McEwen, a computer programmer by day, says he really enjoys watching other fighters develop both in and out of the ring.
Whether they are boxing to train for competition or to stay in shape and make friends, he says that seeing their confidence grow as students train makes him happy. He also brought good friends into his life that he has become close to through boxing.
Boxing, he says, is much more than getting in a ring and fighting.
“There’s a lot more to it than that,” McEwen said. “For beginners (0-5 fights), physical conditioning is the most important aspect because knowing that you can last three full rounds, there will be less question.”
Confidence and conditioning are two of the keys to success in boxing, McEwen said. And that also translates well into useful life skills outside the club.
“That’s extremely important for psychological confidence,” he said. “Amateur boxing is a three-round race, so you always have to be in shape. As a boxer gets past five bouts of experience, strategy and mental toughness become increasingly important, as the goal of boxing is to hit and not be hit.”
Most club members are more interested in fitness and less in competition, but there is something for everyone at the club, McEwen said. He tries to adapt his workouts to the average level of the participants. Meanwhile, the other trainers will move around the room helping the participants with any additional instruction they need.
McEwen also varies 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 make sure no one feels like he’s in over their heads or that there’s nothing challenging them.
“Some people find it empowering to learn the skills,” he said. “It also does a lot for people’s mental health. I’ve seen a lot of people grow through this. People seem to really enjoy the structure and learning how to do specific things correctly.”
He started boxing in 1996 and has been a part of the club ever since, McEwen said.
“I met a lot of people and made a lot of good friends,” he said.
But the competition is what really got him into it.
“The competition was stressful and it takes a lot to get in 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 share that spark with others.
“For beginners, being in good condition is important, but with experience, the mental game becomes much more important,” he added.
That’s where the boxer improves himself for life outside the ring, he said. They take physical conditioning, the ability to think quickly, slow down action, react quickly and effectively, and strategize for the long game with them throughout life, even in the most challenging circumstances.
The club closed in March 2020 to help protect its members from COVID-19 and then reopened in September of this year.
McEwen said membership is still a bit down but people are gradually coming back to the club. He is hopeful that, in January, the club will be a full member again.
The club is currently open three nights a week. Workouts are for both men and women and are held from 6-7:30 pm Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and include a period of time for warm-up, cool-down, conditioning and techniques.
McEwen does training on Mondays and Tuesdays. Another coach, Mike Hayes, leads practice on Thursdays.
For more information, visit the Facebook page and leave a message. You can also call (705) 542-0181 or email McEwen at email@example.com.