Barrie boxer Mark Smither successfully defended his Canadian Super Lightweight title recently, earning the right to keep it for another six months.
The fight paired Smither with Cody Kelly, a Collingwood boxer he faced last December in Brampton.
Smither, a Barrie resident who turned pro in 2019, won the title earlier this year against Paul Ispas at the CAA Centre in Brampton.
Title-holders are required to defend their belt every six months.
Smither’s defending match at East Bayfield Community Centre was Barrie’s first professional boxing event with a local headliner.
“I made sure I was training hard (for it) — it was the first hometown fight with a (Barrie) resident headlining,” Smither tells BarrieToday. “It was good, definitely an experience, and I was in great shape to put on a show for my city and get the victory.”
He says he plans on vacating the title to fight for a different belt, a move that will take him to the international level. The IBA Intercontinental Championship against Bolivia’s top-ranked boxer takes place on Sept. 9 at the CAA Centre.
While it's a fast turnaround time, Smither says he wanted to take the opportunity offered because it’s another step in the lead-up to the world championships.
He's the first Canadian champion to emerge from his training centre, Uptown Boxing, in Barrie. He was also the first to move into professional boxing.
While he was always interested in boxing and enjoyed watching matches, Smither says he didn’t consider taking it up until he was moved into high school at the age of 13. He credits the sport for keeping him out of trouble.
“I was always a fan. Everyone has their own sports in high school and I decided on (boxing). I turned out to be OK at the sport and it helped me to do better at school,” says Smither, adding Uptown became his home and family. “Boxing builds character and training (provides) a foundation to be a success out in the real world.”
Smither comes from a sports-oriented family. Born in Newmarket, he moved to Barrie when he was in elementary school, attending Algonquin Ridge. His father, as a young man, was a boxer in England. One of his sisters, Nicole Manahan, competed at the national level in trampoline gymnastics and was on Team Canada. She also lives in Barrie.
Nevertheless, when he came to choosing a career, Smither studied police foundations and firefighting at college and then went into the construction industry. He currently works full-time as a project manager at a local company and trains every morning and early evening at Uptown Boxing with coaches Jack Ireland and Jonathan Martin.
His training routine consists of strength and conditioning in the morning and fight training in the afternoon. He also travels to spar with other Ontario boxers.
Between his training schedule and full-time work, Smither says he doesn’t have a lot of time for fun activities. But when he can get away for a bit, he enjoys going north to the cottage to spend time with friends and family and get out on the water.
Next year, he hopes to fight in an international match in Barrie in the spring. In the fall of 2023, he will be marrying his fiancé, Lauren Viktil, whom he met her in Barrie.
He says the fight to defend his title wouldn’t have been possible without the support of his workplace, Kas Kitchen, sponsoring the event along with Res Precast, which is based in Innisfil.