Poseidon swimmers medal, earn personal-best times at St. John's meet
Multiple members of the Poseidon Swim Club earned medals and posted personal-best times at a long-course meet in St. John's earlier this month.
Relief accompanies victory in Placentia Bay native's first pro win
Wayne Smith moves around the ring during a match last fall in Saskatoon, Sask.
©Page Professional Sport Promotion/Purple Stone Photography
SASKATOON, Sask. — When Wayne Smith of Freshwater, Placentia Bay knocked out his opponent in the third round of a boxing match last month, his initial impulse was to feel relieved.
"It was a relief to finally, after all the professional fights, I've finally got one," Smith told The Compass last week, reflecting on his first professional victory.
Currently based in Saskatoon, Sask., Smith defeated Jesse McMillan in a lightweight division bout April 29, sanctioned by the Saskatchewan Athletic Commission. It was the eighth pro fight for the young Smith, who now has one win to go with five losses and two draws.
When he shared news of his victory on Facebook, people back home reacted strongly, congratulating Smith on his first win.
"There is a lot of people happy for me and a lot of people cheering for me, and I'm happy about that," said the 27-year-old.
Smith started boxing in his hometown a few years ago with the Placentia Boxing Club, which was started by Eric Bray, a Texan who moved to the area for work.
"I used to get picked on back home, everyone just wrestling around and stuff like that, you know, and I just got interested in (boxing)," Smith said. "It kept me occupied during the evenings, and it was certainly fun."
He was working with a small group at the time, but the experience of boxing in Placentia left Smith wanting more once he left home to study masonry in St. John's and eventually moved to the mainland.
After leaving Newfoundland, he continued to pursue his passion for boxing. It was in Montreal that a coach suggested Smith consider boxing professionally. Smith consulted his former coach back in Newfoundland and then agreed to go to North Dakota in the fall of 2013 for his first fight against American Devonte Donaldson. That match was a split-decision loss.
"It was just something that I was good at, and I figured that I was going to make it someday. It might not be today, but it's going to be tomorrow."
Smith's early results in North Dakota, Montreal, Edmonton and Calgary were not quite what he was hoping for, though none of the five bouts he was on the losing end of were the result of knockouts. He's been doing better since moving to Saskatchewan. His match last October previous to the fight in April was a draw against Ian Abbott.
Leading up to last month's knockout win, Smith trained hard and looked after his body in preparation for the fight.
"I've got a new coach (Dennis Page) who is teaching me the technical side of boxing. Instead of just going out fighting, he's teaching me how to think and throw certain punches."
'Placentia Boxing Club trending upwards'
For now, Smith intends to stick with the sport to see where it takes him. He hopes to get booked for a fight every three-to-four months.
"I don't have any goals of world champ or anything like that, but if the opportunity comes, if a title-fight opportunity comes, I'm certainly going to be interested in it, because I'm not stopping now."