There is a big difference in saying it and doing it, there are many factors that interfere in the process. Samir El Mais, the Commonwealth Games 91kg gold medallist, planned and reached his goal in Glasgow.
On the big night El Mais entered the ring confident of his boxing skills and months of preparation. During the rounds he followed the coaches’ plan, boxing the opponent using speed, having a fast start, and staying out the reach of New Zealand’s David Light.
The decision came as split, 2-1 to El Mais and his celebration in the ring with his usual roar, both index fingers pointing up and legs ready to dance, was echoed in his corner by coaches Daniel Trepanier and Kevin Howard’s clapping, screaming and bicep flexing.
“I don’t want just a medal, ‘I WANT GOLD!!,’” wrote El Mais, to Boxing Canada in a Facebook chat interview before the Games.
But the journey to gold came with a scare. A bloody cut almost stopped his dream in the first match of the championship, but referee Gerardo Poggi handled it properly.
“If I stopped the bout, the boxer was going to loose by TKO, but if it is stopped by the doctor it goes to points no matter the round,” Explained Poggi, recognized as the best World Series of Boxing referee of 2013 by AIBA – the International Boxing Association.
In the quarterfinals, El Mais got a bad cut under his right eyebrow against Warren Bastier from England. He defeated Bastier on a 2-1 decision with long-range jabs and in the last 30 seconds of the bout made the Englishman stagger.
In the semifinals, El Mais defeated Nigerian Efetobor Apochi in an unanimous decision using jabs, followed by three and four-punch combinations to his opponent’s head and body, moving side-to-side keeping him off balance. El Mais was in control of the bout from the opening bell.
“My focus and experience is going to get me to the Gold medal,” said El Mais after the bout.
Boxing without headgear, as is done in the Commonwealth Games, increases the possibility of cuts, something Trepanier and Howard told the Canadian team before Glasgow.
“They prepared us, and when it happened they told me to keep composed and don’t think about it,” said 34-year old El Mais, who has been living in Canada since he was 10, brought over by his parent from his native Abu Dhabi.
El Mais had a great 2013; wining gold medals in two international tournaments, ranked 17th in the world by AIBA, and taking bronze at the Continentals. But these accolades weren’t enough for his hungry boxing heart. It was imperative to match them with really hard training in 2014.
“When I didn’t make the Olympics I knew I was an Olympic boxer and needed to prove it,” Said El Mais two days after winning his prize.
“It’s a million dollar feeling wining gold for my great country of Canada.”
“It feels awesome, food tastes better, and I’m enjoying life more,” the Windsor, Ontario native said while finally relaxing at home.
Story via Raquel Ruiz, a contributor to Boxing Canada.