For myself as an athlete, having gyms completely closed down really hindered not only my ability to show up to work—because preparing for fighting isn’t really Zoom accessible—but I tried, like many other athletes and health conscious individuals to stay as motivated as possible. Finally, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve been able to plan my next fight. Hopefully, I get back into the cage on October 17 in a pay per view fight. But first, let me explain how we got here.
During the lockdown, my love for running was reignited, both metaphorically and literally as I would “double dose” each runner’s high with cannabis and countless kilometres. At this point I’ve nearly ran myself to and from Florida, which of course isn’t actually possible with the US-CAN border still closed and just another example of our new normal for the foreseeable future…
Still, as winter turned to spring and then to summer, some sense of normalcy has begun to return. The biggest “back to normal” moment was getting myself back to the gym. Rather, getting back to my own office as the new home office workout routine certainly had its limits. It was during this time I connected with Geordan Thomas, trainer and owner of Toronto’s United Boxing Gym (UBC), which was one of the first gym’s back up and running in the city safely during COVID. I am extremely grateful he has opened his doors to me as a fighter to get back to work. This clearly wasn’t an easy task, as strict health and safety protocols are not just suggested, but mandatory to be implemented and approved for any gym to get back up and running.
For many, I recognize the struggle to stay in shape. Especially for those early morning workout warriors that would get in a session just before work, shower and then head to the office. Can’t really put on a tie and suit after a 6 a.m. boxing class. This is just one of the many obstacles facing both gym owners and gym members trying to jump right back into a consistent workout routine. Also, with these new limits of capacity of facilities, 10 people per class might not even cover paying the rent, never mind turning a profit.
Thankfully, as mentioned, my new home gym, United Boxing Gym, is up and running. It even has its very own MMA room, where my training partners and coaches can all come to get back on that fighting grind. And that’s exactly what we are doing.
Now a few months back in the gym, ready, willing and hungry to fight, that has been the newest obstacle placing a wedge in my 2020 timeline. Originally, the plan was to fight 4/20, a distant memory now, but this 4/20/20 was a decade in the making and would have been “HIGH” class advocacy as I looked to make history as the first sanctioned cannabis athlete. Instead, this very important event was sadly pushed further and further down the line. Now, fast track past our first six months in the pandemic and heading into fall with a possible looming “second-wave,” this could mean even more rollbacks and more confinement to flatten the curve.
This will include my next fight, which will be streamed exclusively on Imagine BC as I look to make history as the first sanctioned cannabis athlete.
With that in mind, I have been quietly—yet ferociously—working behind the scenes to get back in the cage and compete. Along the way, I realized, it’s not only the athletes, but also the organizations and leagues that also find themselves in a loss of next steps during a pandemic. For example, many sports leagues rely heavily on ticket sales, but with large gatherings all but (by-law) illegal, there goes most of your revenue (not to mention the six months of lost revenue during the lockdown). It’s a difficult time in sports, and that doesn’t even scratch at the amateur and youth sports, which have also suffered throughout this pandemic.
However, not being one to sit on my hands and wait for something to “just happen” on it’s own, I’ve been working on seeing how to navigate this new sports landscape. In my search I was extremely lucky to connect and then partner with Imagine BC—a safe and equitable platform for all users and creators. This will include my next fight, which will be streamed exclusively on Imagine BC as I look to make history as the first sanctioned cannabis athlete. Both as a fighter and a promoter for the historic event! This platform, unlike many current social media industry standards, does not “shadow ban” content because of an outdated view on cannabis. Moreover, the Imagine BC team is highlighting my PPV event as part of their own media roll out, as we look to make history together. nOf course, with this being 2020, my professional COVID life is very much in limbo until final approvals for competition. We had planned to have our event October 17, 2020, the second anniversary of cannabis legalization in a jurisdiction of Canada that recognized my medical cannabis rights. This would have been almost too perfect of a date to kick off this event, but either way, we are ready and waiting to kick down the doors of prohibition in professional sports and lead the way as a safe and profitable organization for all Canadian sports to use a blueprint for their own return. Until then, I’ll happily continue to train at my new gym, ready to trailBLAZE my return for not only for myself, but all athletes moving forward: fighting the stigma of medical cannabis, both in and out of the cage.