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Victoria boxer Colwell looks to punch ticket to Paris through Pan Am Games

Pan Am Games start next month in Chile
Island boxer Bryan Colwell looks to carry his momentum from nationals to the Pan American Games. SUBMITTED

Even more than punching power, Victoria boxer Bryan Colwell has had staying power. The four-time Canadian amateur heavyweight champion was named to the 2023 Pan Am Games team Thursday at age 33.

The Pan Am Games, in Southern Hemisphere spring from Oct. 20 to Nov. 5 in the Chilean capital of Santiago, are a direct qualifier in boxing to the 2024 Olympics with the gold- and silver-medallists advancing to Paris next summer.

“Punching my ticket to Paris is the intention I am going in with,” said Colwell.

“It’s going to be a tough competition with the U.S., Cuba and South Americans but I am going after them, using all the skills I have learned about the sweet science.”

And boxing is as much a ­science as a brawl.

“It’s about positioning and understanding, especially over just three rounds, which Games boxing is, and it can be like chess,” said Colwell, who trains at Victoria Martial Arts.

Colwell said he learned a great deal from the 2019 Lima Pan Am Games, where he almost overcame an unfortunate draw by giving world No. 1 and eventual gold-medallist Erislandy Savon of Cuba, an Olympic medallist, all he could handle in an opening-bout loss that went to the wire.

“I am proud of my performance at those last Pan Am Games and will be using everything I’ve learned and the skills I have developed over the last four years,” he said.

Colwell came to the Island from Fort St. John following Grade 12 with the intention of making the University of Victoria Vikes soccer team. Instead, he found Victoria boxing rings, and they may lead to the five rings.

Boxers not qualifying out of the Pan Am Games will have two last-chance Paris Olympic qualifiers next year.

Colwell, with a 46-14 overall record, would be among the oldest boxers in Paris next summer if he makes it. Coming from soccer gave him a late start in the ring, but he proved a quick and able learner with longevity. The Camosun College business and accounting major found his true calling not in a team sport, but in an individual sport.

“I’ve had a long, structured amateur career and have avoided taking a lot of damage,” he said.

Boxing will take place October 19 to 27 — days 1 to 7 of the Pan Am Games — at the Centre de Entrenamiento Olímpico.

The 13 Canada boxers to the Games, seven men and six women, were selected based on their performances at the 2023 national qualifiers in Montreal in June followed by the Americas’ regional qualifiers held in Cali, Colombia, this month.

“Our team was well ­positioned and prepared to capitalize on the opportunities presented to us in Cali at the Pan Am Games qualifier,” Kraig Devlin of ­Victoria, high performance director for Boxing Canada, said in a ­statement.

“With approximately six weeks to go until the Pan Am Games, I am very confident that our coaches and athletes will be able to leverage their success in Cali and perform optimally in Santiago.”

Colwell will join the more than 60 Island or Island-based athletes expected to compete for Canada in the 2023 Santiago Pan Am Games. Island athletes won 17 medals in the 2019 Lima Pan Am Games, 20 medals, including 13 gold, at the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games and 21 medals at the 2011 Guadalajara Pan Am Games.

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