FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Fort St. John, British Columbia can now officially lay claim to being the hometown of not one, but two Canadian boxing champions.
18 year-old Ashley Rouble, who trains at the Fivestar Boxing Academy, is arguably one of the brightest young stars in the sport in Canada. Rouble, who has only been training purely in boxing since last Fall, was invited to join Team BC at Nationals in Quebec City last December by head coach Bob Pegues after he saw her fight in Quesnel.
Pegues has been coaching BC’s provincial team on and off for the past 17 years. He says that he was approached by Fivestar head coach Justin Donally about having Rouble fight one of Pegues’ open fighters in a match in Quesnel, as it was proving difficult finding other girls for Rouble to box. Pugues says he was initially taking Donally’s claims with a grain of salt about Rouble’s abilities, but after two rounds he was amazed at her talents, and allowed Rouble to be classified as an ‘open’ fighter so that she could fight on the provincial team.
After the fight in Quesnel, Rouble ended up beating Maddie Swanson at Alberta provincials in Grande Prairie, and was also named the top female boxer at both the B.C. and Alberta Golden Gloves tournaments, losing a close match to Swanson in B.C., but winning in Alberta. “Unheard of. All of it’s unheard of, it’s nothing we’ve ever seen before,” said Pegues on Rouble’s successes in the past four months.
Donally explained that Rouble was initially set to compete in the 60 kilogram weight class at Nationals in Quebec City, but that due to her busy school and training schedule in the weeks leading up to the tournament, she would instead not try to cut as much weight during the week and instead fought in the 64 kilogram weight class. Rouble fought against 17 year-old Jessie-Jayne Ouellet from Quebec in the final on April 28th.
Ouellet was making her third appearance at Nationals, having won the silver medal in 2015 and the gold medal in 2016. “She had a lot of ring experience, and the pressure walking onto the stage was a lot in itself,” said Rouble. “She had a heavy right hand so we didn’t know what we were going up against, so our gameplan was to stay away from that the first round until we figured out her style and power.” Donally said that for most of the fight, Rouble had ring control for most of the match, and landed several big punches. The two fighters started to slow down a bit in the second, but Rouble decisively won the round before Ouellet started to attempt a comeback in the third. Despite slowing a touch, Rouble still landed some big punches, and ended up winning the match via split decision.
The day after the match, Rouble was also bestowed an even bigger honour than a gold medal: Boxing Canada named her the Best Female Boxer in the Youth division.
Helping coach Team BC, Donally says that another native of the Energetic City was on the team. 27 year-old Bryan Colwell was born and raised in Fort St. John, and moved away after high school when he was awarded a soccer scholarship at UVic. Colwell says that after heading to a local MMA gym in Victoria to work on his cardio for soccer, he became hooked and has been a mixed martial artist for close to 10 years.
After moving to become purely a boxer three years ago, Colwell has since gone on to amass a 19-4 boxing and kickboxing record. At Nationals, Cowell beat Ontario’s Adam Funnell via unanimous decision, Quebec’s Karl Beaulieu via split decision, and Quebec’s Jean Nicolas Legare via knockout in the second round of the final to be crowned Canadian National Heavyweight boxing champion.
For Rouble the next possible step will be representing Team Canada at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games in Nassau, Bahamas, July 19th – 23rd. Pegues adds that he thinks several other of Fivestar’s boxers show real promise to also be invited to Nationals next year. “Right now, we’re watching Nick Young and Brayden Sims. We’ve got both of them in our sights for next year, and I have no doubt that Justin will turn them into the boxers that we’re looking for on the team.”