Three-time boxing world champion and 2012 Olympian Mary Spencer made a visit to Humber College today in order to give a boxing seminar. I debated whether or not to go– would this be a demonstration, a real workout and could I take something valuable away from her? The answer was a little bit of all three.

Just last August, Spencer had lost in her first match of the Olympics:

Spencer fell to Chinese boxer Li Jinzi in a quarter-final fight at the Olympics on Monday, losing 17-14 in front of a near-capacity crowd in the ExCel arena in east London. A win would have at least guaranteed her a bronze medal.

Spencer received a bye through the first round of the 12-woman draw, and she was drawn into the easier side of the bracket, avoiding two fighters who have already beaten her this year.

The National Post, August 6, 2012

A video of the final round of this fight is available here (only for Canadian viewers, sorry!). Spencer appears to get swarmed by an opponent who clinches without hesitation. Spencer’s long arms made it hard for her to fight on the inside, and she is too inactive in the final round.

As for the seminar, due to the mixed-experience level of the group, the instruction was at a beginner-to-intermediate level. We did a warm-up, stretching, three rounds of “Polish boxing” (punching with high-knees), basic combinations, defense, suicides (sprints back and forth across the gym) and a cool-down.

During the Q & A period that followed the seminar, someone asked Mary Spencer if she would spar with me. I had brought my gloves, handwraps and mouthpiece in preparation for this honor. You learn more at an accelerated pace by working with high-level champions than you do by getting comfortable with the same level of opposition.

“That would be a lose-lose situation,” she told the media and seminar participants.

In other words, I would look bad because I beat up a girl or I would look bad because I would get beaten up by a girl. As much as this philosophy makes sense, with people debating whether women should even be participating in boxing and MMA, I was disappointed.

I have sparred with several girls in kickboxing– we just go at about 30 percent intensity, I throw no head shots, and sometimes work on my defense. In jiu-jitsu, I have rolled with many girls. To tell the truth, there are many great female grapplers at my gym, and they are as dangerous (or more dangerous) than anyone else on the mats.

I did pick up ideas on positioning my hands in the guard, some conditioning drills and some freebies/givaways. There was even lemon- and strawberry-flavored water (think the cucumber water in The Other Guys).

As for Spencer, she will continue on her quest for gold, aiming for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.


(all photos taken by George Halim)

Seminar participant (L) and Brian J. D'Souza (R)

Seminar participant (L) and Brian J. D’Souza (R)

Brian J. D'Souza (L) and Mary Spencer (R)

Brian J. D’Souza (L) and Mary Spencer (R)

I lead the cool-down that concludes the seminar

I lead the cool-down that concludes the seminar

Mary Spencer (L) and Brian J. D'Souza (R) enjoy a laugh during the seminar

Mary Spencer (L) and Brian J. D’Souza (R) enjoy a laugh during the seminar

The conclusion of the seminar is a great photo op

The conclusion of the seminar is a great photo op

My guard

My guard