Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia boxer Wyatt Sanford eyes podium at Paris Olympics

It’s been 28 years since a Canadian boxer won an Olympic medal, but an athlete from Nova Scotia hopes that drought will end in Paris. 

In less than one month, Wyatt Sanford will compete in the Summer Games for the second time. The 25-year-old boxer from Kennetcook, N.S., qualified for Paris at the 2023 Pan Am Games in Santiago, Chile — where he won gold. 

Sanford, who competes in the 63.5-kilogram weight class, is seeded No. 1 entering the competition.

“Whether we’re seeded number 1, 2, 8, not at all, we still have the same mindset, same goals.” he said. “We want to get on the podium.”

It was 1996 when Canada last won an Olympic medal in boxing. David Defiagbon, fighting out of Halifax at the time, won silver in the heavyweight division.

Sanford said it has been a long dry spell for Canada and that has been a topic of conversation during his training in Montreal. He is one of two Canadian boxers competing in Paris — Quebec’s Tammara Thibeault has also qualified. 

“We’re only sending two people, but looking at it we have a good chance of bringing back two medals,” he said. 

GOLD MEDAL: Nova Scotia boxer Wyatt Sanford punches his way to Pan Am gold

Wyatt Sanford of Kennetcook, N.S. beat Mexico’s Miguel Martinez by unanimous decision to win the Pan American Games men’s 63.5 kg gold medal bout.

Sanford said support from his rural hometown is a huge motivator. 

 “Everybody wants to know what’s going on, everybody. And it drives you to do even more,” Sanford said. “They have your back. And that’s such a huge thing.” 

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Brad Ross, the high-performance lead with Boxing Nova Scotia who coaches the national youth team, said Sanford is a role model for younger athletes. He said the success draws more kids to the sport. 

“This is probably the best chance that the sport of boxing in Canada has had for an Olympic medal in quite some time,” Ross said. “It’s very realistic to think that both these athletes can get medals in Paris.” 

Ross has watched Sanford compete from the beginning and will be at the Olympics.

Sanford’s first bout was at age 11. He said the support of family has been key to achieving his Olympic dream.

“One of the things is you just push through it,” Sanford said of the effort required. “One day, all the hard work, everything that you’ve done, will pay off.”

Sanford competed in the Tokyo Olympics, losing a decision in his first match. 

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