Driving from Edmonton to the tiny Northern Alberta town of Wabasca, Alta., Abbotsford’s Thomas Kippes knew he had a big task in front of him.
The amateur boxer was signed to compete at the Northern Alberta Gold Belt Championship event on Oct. 3 but his opponent was changed at the last minute.
The new fighter he was squaring off with was 6’ 10”, 300-plus pound Brad Switzer from Edmonton.
“I was originally supposed to fight in my weight division, which is 180 to 200 pounds,” said Kippes, who stands 6’ 2”.
“But I got an email from the promoter and was told Switzer’s opponent had broken his ankle and they wanted me in the main event. I said yes.”
Kippes, a 2012 Yale Secondary grad, said he’d never fought anyone the size of Switzer but he felt comfortable after over nine years of training with the Abbotsford-Mission boxing club.
Kippes had to look up but managed to stand toe-to-toe with his much bigger opponent.
“I was a little nervous at first and actually tweaked my ankle in the first 10 seconds but the adrenaline kept me going,” he said. “I was able to duck his punches because they were slow because he’s so big, and I went for his body and occasionally the head when I could reach it.”
After three rounds of three minutes, Kippes was awarded the win via unanimous judges’ decision.
“This was my most satisfying win,” he said. “To win in the main event against a guy that size was huge for me.”
Kippes’ father Alex is his coach. He got him interested in the sport after they moved to Abbotsford from Germany about a decade ago.
“It’s a sport that gives you so much confidence and discipline.”
He next represents the province in his weight division at the Western Championships in Kelowna in November.
If he qualifies after that event, he heads to the Team Canada Olympic qualifiers in Montreal in December.