Today my guest is Jennifer Huggins. As I am sitting in the dressing room in my blue attire and red gloves on, I look over at Coach and asked: “Do you think I am ready?” He smirks. I stand up and my theme song hits [Smash Mouth – Why Can’t We Be Friends] as I make my way to the ring. There is a poster on the wall Fight to End Cancer. You hear the roar of the crowd in the background. I wipe my feet before entering the boxing ring. I glanced over to the referee and nodded. The announcer speaks and says: “and in the blue (he pauses) I present to you, weighing at…” I cleared my throat to signal the announcer. He continues to speak: “a modest weight for his age….. Mr…..”
The announcer is interrupted by another song playing in the background [LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out]. I gulped as my opponent dressed in red arrived on the scene. The referee informs us of the rules and regulations of the fight. (pause) Well, at least that’s what I remember. Boom! (lights) 10, 9, 8, 7 …. Back in the dressing room, I open my eyes with Coach standing over the gurney. I asked: “so…how did I do Coach?”
Coach shakes his head in disappointment. Today on #whatonwhatsgood this #cinqque5tion actually packs a punch and a little bit of mystery. I present to you, Jennifer Huggins. Jennifer Huggins owns and operates Kingsway Boxing Club in Toronto, Canada. She is a 3-Star International Boxing Referee and Judge with the AIBA International Boxing Association.
In addition, Jennifer is also the Founder and CEO of the Fight To End Cancer and President of Boxing Ontario. But wait, there’s more. Fun fact, she travels the world performing with a World Class Magician. Cool eh? This is going to be so much fun. It is very nice to meet you, Jennifer. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.
1. Can you tell us more about Kingsway Boxing Club in Toronto, Canada? What do you offer?
In 2005, after running my boxing programs across the province through various fitness facilities, I finally decided to start my own club. It wasn’t much when I first opened, I didn’t even plan on having classes. My ‘gym’ was just an apartment on the second floor of a beauty and hair salon. Within a couple of months, I had run out of space, and was running full classes for kids, teens and adults! To my surprise, people LOVED boxing!
Today, Kingsway Boxing Club operates out of two locations in the West End of Toronto. We offer programs for everyone of every age, experience and fitness level.
I feel honoured to share a sport with the community that has given so much, to so many!
2. For those who may be new to boxing, how would you define 1-star, 2-star, 3-star referees?
International officials are classified by levels that determine where they will be assigned to work. 1-Star Officials can referee and judge Dual Matches between countries, 2-Stars will be allowed to referee Continental Tournaments and 3-Stars are able to work world championships and Olympic level.
*Bonus Question: How do you become a 3-Star International Boxing Referee?
Just like any other achievement, you need to work hard, be devoted and stay educated in your field. Once you become a national level official in your country, it’s possible you will be recommended to the next level. It’s important to be heavily involved with local and national competitions to stay current and visible to your organization. Hard Work Pays Off!
3. What are the typical duties and responsibilities of a judge at the international level? What do you look for in a match?
Officials are working with the best of the best in the sport. Athletes have devoted their entire lives to the three rounds they will spend in front of you. Judges must focus and apply the scoring criteria correctly and fairly. Referees must make important decisions within a split second at times. As an official in the sport of boxing, focus is everything. Judges protect the career of the boxer. Referees protect the lives of the boxer.
4. You are the founder and CEO of the Fight To End Cancer. How can we help?
The Fight To End Cancer is everyone’s fight! Cancer does not discriminate, it travels to every country and can affect us at any age. Whether you’re willing to step into the ring and literally knock out the disease, or if your company is interested in creating a campaign to raise awareness, we NEED you! Visit fighttoendcancer.com to see how you can join the Fight To End Cancer!
5. You travel the world performing with a World Class Magician. Any fun stories?
As the saying goes… I can’t give away any of my secrets!
Travelling with Richard Forget has been a dream come true! Just don’t tell him I said that. Since I was 20 years old, I’ve had the honour of performing on some of the grandest stages around the world. However, the true magic comes from the moments we’ve shared behind the scenes, off stage.
One of my favourite stories comes from when we were in Cairo, performing for the President of Egypt. We only had one day to explore, and since this was our second time visiting and we’d already done the pyramids, we decided we would find our way downtown to hang out with friends.
Did you know even know that Egypt had Ubers? They also have 10 lanes of traffic in each direction with no painted lines, and their speed limit is only determined by the abilities of the vehicle.
Long story short, we found ourselves reversing on a 20 lane highway (at least we were on the shoulder), with 10 diagonal lanes of oncoming traffic. I forgot to mention, exits are approximately 100 kilometres apart on Egyptian highways, so it totally makes sense that our Uber driver made the back travel of only 2 kilometres with oncoming traffic.
The magical moment came when Richard, looked at me and said: “We’re going to die!”
It was in that moment that I realized that I had lived nothing short of a great life, NOT that I was ready to die… But hey, I’ve seen the world, I’ve dedicated my life to giving back to the sport and community that I love, and I know we’ve made people smile every time we’ve been on stage together.
I looked back at him and said: “We’re never taking Uber in Egypt again!”
Some would call that a scary moment… I call it magical.
Some other stories at What On What’s Good
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