“The boy’s going down.”
Brent Fitzmaurice might not have a lot of competitive fighting experience but he makes up for it in swagger.
Fitzmaurice is one of nine fighters from Big Country Muskoka headed to Oshweken (located within the Six Nations of the Grand River) this weekend to take on opponents from The Scorpion Combat Gym.
Several of the fighters heading down from the Bracebridge gym (which was known as Muskoka Kickboxing up until recently) will be taking part in their first serious competition in front of a live audience.
“I’ve been ready for this for two years,” says Fitzmaurice. “I’ve spared and spared at teh gym but you never go 100% because we don’t want anyone to get hurt. This will be my first time going full out.”
Fitzmaurice has trained primarily in Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu but all of the matches on October 2 will be boxing matches.
“I trained in everything but for the last month I’ve been focussed exclusively on boxing,” he says.
Despite heading into his first competitive bout at the age of 39, Fitzmaurice says he isn’t nervous. He feels he’s put in the hours to take care of business against a much younger opponent.
Since the event is not officially sanctioned, the combatants are matched up against one another base roughly on weight and skill level. They will be fighting with full protective equipment and 16 ounce gloves.
More than just a pastime four Fitzmaurice, combat sports have played a dramatic role in helping him to realign his life when he made the decision to get sober four years ago.
“When I started my recovery I became very physically active. It was during that period that I had a friend of mine suggest it to me,” he says. “I’ve run and done all kinds of physical activity but nothing compares to the intensity of a two-minute sparring match. It’s also crazy enough to fill that crazy alcohol void.”
Fitzmaurice received a crash course in the sport when he was asked to spar with the diminutive Cassandra McNaughton upon joining the gym.
“This 100 lb woman completely rocked me,” said Fitzmaurice. “Right away I knew I needed more and I needed to learn more.”
Schooling new recruits is nothing new to McNaughton. What’s new for the mother of three is stepping in front of a crowd to fight a competitive boxing match.
“I’m a little nervous,” admits McNaughton. “I’ve always wanted to compete in Jiu-Jitsu and MMA and that’s primarily what I’ve been training for. Boxing isn’t really my strong suit so it’s a little bit nerve-wracking.”
McNaughton Is the manager of Big Country Muskoka, which she affectionately referred to as, “her baby.”
Born and raised in Bracebridge, she says she took a kickboxing course and fell in love.
“Being a smaller woman I found learning to defend yourself is super empowering,” says McNaughton. “My kids are taking classes too and even for them I feel like it’s really helped with their confidence.”
McNaughton is also the co-owner of Rebel Yoga, which operates primarily out of the same space. She says that martial arts shares a lot in common with yoga.
“Flexibility is a huge part of martial arts, as well as endurance, strength and breathwork,” she says. “There are lots of times when I’m trapped under someone and I use yoga breathwork.”
McNaughton says the world of combat sports is male-dominated, but the team at Big Country Muskoka all support one another and it’s helped to make preparation for the fight much easier.
The fights will be live-streamed and you can find out entails on how to order by visiting “Big Country Muskoka – Muskoka Kickboxing” on Facebook.
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