Kenny Lally has left his hometown to start another boxing journey.
The 22-year-old could return to Prince George as a qualifier for this summer’s Olympics in London, England.
The final qualifier for the 2012 Summer Olympics is May 4 to 13 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Lally left the city on Wednesday to begin a trip to Windsor, Ont., where he’ll compete in a card on Saturday. Lally, Canada’s A team representative in the senior open 52 kg division, will train in the region for two weeks.
Lally has been involved in a fitness program for the last nine weeks. He hasn’t had a match outside of the city since winning gold at the Boxing Canada Senior (Elite) Championships in Cape Breton, N.S., in January.
“I could’ve stayed in Prince George to finish off my camp here, but I got to do something big if I want to quality, like going to Windsor and training there,” he said.
Lally’s first Olympic qualifying event was the World Championships from Sept. 22 to Oct. 10 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Since falling short in that attempt, he’s been hungry for another shot at London.
“Ever since the Worlds, I’ve become a total different fighter,” he said. “I’m training twice a day. I never used to train twice a day.”
The World Championships was an educational experience for Lally.
“I learned so much after that loss. After the Worlds, the biggest thing that changed in my game is my footwork. I’m constantly on my toes now and I’m way more balanced, and I can throw a lot harder now because I’m on my toes.”
After training in Windsor, Lally will travel to Puerto Rico on April 8 to start a three-country training camp with the host Puerto Ricans and the Bahamian team. The Canadian team will compete against Puerto Rico in a dual match on April 14 and 17.
Boxing Canada was looking into hosting the Canadian team in Montreal beginning April 24 until they leave for the competition in Brazil on May 1. But that wasn’t confirmed as of Wednesday, and there was still a possibility Lally would return to Prince George for a little downtime before travelling to Brazil.
The Olympic qualifying tournament in May includes countries from North, South and Central America which haven’t qualified. There are two spots remaining in Lally’s weight class, meaning he’ll require a gold or silver medal in Brazil to qualify.
Family support may provide a boost to Lally in his attempt to advance for the Olympics. His mother, sister and aunt are planning to travel to Brazil for the qualifier.
Acclimatizing could be challenging, but the training in Puerto Rico will help.
“I got to do something special and the temperature down there is so hot, same with the humidity,” Lally said.
On Saturday’s card in Windsor, Lally will step in the ring against Jorge Puebla of Toronto’s Champions Boxing Club in a 56 kg bout. The training will feature practices with Canadian Olympians and fellow national team members. The team will also travel across the border to Detroit for sparring sessions.
Lally’s national team coach is Adrian Teodorescu from Toronto’s Atlas Boxing Club. Teodorescu has been to the Olympics eight times, once as a boxer, six times as the Romanian naitonal team coach and another time taking Canadian gold-medal winner Lennox Lewis.
Bob Pegues, Lally’s coach in Prince George, won’t be travelling with him over the next six weeks. But Pegues is hopeful he’ll join his boxer in London.
“This whole trip he’s lined up here, he’s lined it up himself. He’s lined up sparring, he’s lined up fights so he’s in good shape,” Pegues said. “His maturity level has gone up so much in the last few months, last year really.”