TORONTO - Whomever coined the phrase “the pen is mightier than the sword” obviously had never been to a knife fight.
On the other hand, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the English poet who, as it turns out, penned that famous adage back in 1839, (about the last time the Leafs won the Stanley Cup) was on to something.
Last week, Brampton boxer Luis Valdivia was trying to figure out how to raise $850 so he could represent Canada at the Commonwealth Youth Games, Sept.7-12, on the Isle of Man, off the west coast of England. Because of budget shortfalls, Boxing Canada is asking the fighters named to the team to kick in some of their own money for the trip.
But for Valdivia, a high-school student and son of hard-working immigrants from Chile, that kind of scratch was nothing to sneeze at.
He and his parents certainly didn’t have $850 sitting in the cookie jar.
Valdivia’s coach, John Melich, then contacted the Toronto Sun and explained his boxer’s situation.
An article appeared in last Saturday’s Sun and, since then, offers for support have poured in from area residents, including David Vyner of the New Haven Mortgage Corporation in North York and Dave Miles and Amanda Mitchell of Transclean Protein, a Brampton nutritional firm.
All three were at the Champions Gym in Brampton on Monday night to present Valdivia with cheques for $850 and $1,000 respectfully, to help with his training and expenses.
“It’s a great story and myself and my brother Jason would like to lend a helping hand,” said Vyner, who was impressed with the fact that Valdivia’s mother, grandmother and brother were at the gym on Monday to lend Luis support.
Melich raves about the Valdivia family, who emigrated to Canada from Chile about a decade ago. Luis became a Canadian citizen this summer, just in time to represent his new country internationally.
“They’re a great family, very supportive, very hard working, very disciplined. In fact, the mom (Ingrid) is often here cleaning the gym for me and the dad (Luis) sometimes helps out with the fighters,” Melich said.
Melich said the out-pouring of support has been overwhelming, and he’s still sifting through offers. Another Sun reader who’s offered to step up with some funding is Kitchener lawyer and boxing aficionado Michael J. Schmidt.
Melich said the funding will go a long way in helping the 17-year-old Valdivia, the 69-kg champion at the 201 Canada Games, realize his dream of winning a gold medal for Canada at the Olympics — if not next year in London, then in five years at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“He’s got excellent ability, the best defence I’ve seen in an amateur,” Melich said. “And he’s got more explosive power than any amateur I’ve ever seen. He’ll be holding up his hands and if the kid makes one little mistake, he’s on him.”
Valdivia said that turning professional is definitely an option down the road, but first he wants to see how far he can go as an amateur, representing Canada. Melich wholeheartedly concurs.
“A lot of people say, ‘John, you’ve turned a lot of guys pro.’ But not this kid,” Melich said. “Not now (anyway), because he’s got that ability, he’s got good defence. And at the international level, he’s going to give everyone a big run for the money.”
And now, thanks to Sun readers, Valdivia’s got the opportunity to train and fight without going into debt representing his country.