Living the Dream: Canning Boxing Club member defends provincial title, prepares for nationals

Josh Jay a natural in the ring

Kirk Starratt
Published on January 3, 2017

Josh Jay, of Berwick, the current provincial Elite light welterweight champion, is heading to nationals on the heels of a successful title defence in New Glasgow. He represents the Canning Boxing Club.

©Kirk Starratt

CANNING, NS - Coming off a successful title defence at provincials, a Berwick boxer will be representing Nova Scotia — not to mention the Canning Boxing Club — at nationals in Quebec this April.

“You never feel more alive than you do in the ring,” Josh Jay said. “There’s nothing like that feeling of getting your hand raised at the end of a tough bout.”

The 19-year-old said he was always interested in boxing and watched it on TV when he was a kid. He moved to Berwick at age 12 and found he had “a little bit of a target” on his back as the new kid in town. Jay said there were times when he had to defend himself.

He and his friends used to put on gloves and box for fun. Then, at age 15, he found out that the Berwick Boxing Club was right up the road.

“I said, ‘Where do I sign up?’ and I went up to give it a try and found a passion for the sport,” Jay said.

He joined the Canning Boxing Club following the recent amalgamation with the Berwick club. The goal Jay set when he began training seriously was competing for a provincial championship. He’s won at provincials three years running.

He credits his success to a combination of hard work, great coaching and sparring partners, and strong family support.

Jay said his style has evolved from “a one dimensional brawler” who would “take a shot to land a shot.” He spent a couple years working on defence and footwork and has learned to adapt his style to counter that of his opponent.

Jay said he’s now boxing against some of the guys at the main event level who he used to study when he was on the undercard.

Berwick’s Josh Jay throws a left into the heavy bag while training at the Canning Boxing Club. A recent successful title defence at provincials punched his ticket to nationals in April.

©Kirk Starratt

Coming up to provincials the first time in 2014, Jay was a lightweight, the limit being 132 pounds. Having just won a third-round TKO over the provincial lightweight champion, he didn’t foresee any challenging competition in that weight class.

Jay decided to bump up to the light welterweight class, with a limit of 141 pounds, but his scheduled opponent pulled out with a shoulder injury.

Jay ended up boxing for the provincial novice welterweight title and won. Boxers with fewer than 11 bouts are considered novice, not yet in the open class.

“It was the 152 limit, I weighed 136 pounds for the fight,” Jay said. “It was just kind of a brawl and I won a decision.”

His second year at provincials, two weeks after turning 18, Jay competed in Open Class Elite. He won the provincial Elite light welterweight title on a decision in spite of being considered a heavy underdog. Jay also competed at the Ringside World Championships in Kansas City in 2015.

At the 2016 provincials in New Glasgow, Jay was up against last year’s Atlantic welterweight champion, Jonathan St. Clair. Jay said he didn’t know quite what to expect, as he considers St. Clair a “wildcard” who boxes differently every time, a tough fighter.

“I normally play against my opponent’s style but I felt like I could out-box him,” Jay said.

He said it ended up being a brawl in the second and third rounds — a fast-paced, entertaining match. Jay was victorious, successfully defending his provincial Elite light welterweight title, and they took home ‘Fight of the Night’ honours.

Josh Jay of the Canning Boxing Club.

©Kirk Starratt

He’s now looking forward to competing at nationals in Quebec City in April. He said he punched his ticket with the recent successful title defence. Jay hopes to make it to the national medal podium.

“Right now we’re looking for the biggest name, most experienced, highest calibre boxers that we can find to fight,” Jay said. “Fighting big name fighters, you either add a big win to your resume or, if you come up short, you gain a lot of experience from fighting those high-level boxers.”

He likens it to a journey where you’re challenged to see how far you can go. He said he wasn’t on a good path with the life choices he was making before he got into boxing. However, once Jay discovered his passion for the sport, he got interested in fitness and nutrition. Furthering his boxing career is what he now works toward.

He said staying disciplined and making all the small sacrifices necessary is very important when training for a match. You have to say ‘no’ to junk food and parties, for example, and you can’t go to the bar with your friends.

Jay works for Wilson’s Pharmasave in Berwick. He enjoys it and said the hours mesh well with his training schedule.