'Natural power': 17-year-old undefeated Quebec boxer gears up for Canada Games
Don't let her size fool you—when it comes to boxing, 17-year-old Talia Birch is all power.
The Quebec teenager recently notched her sixth win in the boxing ring. Not bad considering she had never set foot in one until two years ago.
“I became obsessed, I am obsessed with it, so that's how it happened,” Birch told CTV National News.
“While you're fighting, there is honestly nothing going through your head, it's instinct, you just act on it.”
She threw her first punch in her basement as a way to stay active during the pandemic. Nine months later, she was lacing up her gloves for her first fight.
Birch was so nervous about competing for the first time that it felt like her legs gave out before the fight.
“I couldn't even warm up because all of my air was sucked out from my body from the stress,” she said. “But then as soon as the bell rang, it was smooth, it was a fun fight.”
The undefeated boxer is now gearing up for the Canada Games in Prince Edward Island later this month, where female boxers will square off for the very first time.
“It's crazy,” Birch said. “I'm so excited to be a part of those girls.”
The Canada Games is a multi-sport event with a winter sports and a summer sports version that alternate every two years. It’s the highest level of national competition for Canadian athletes in sports such as boxing, alpine ski, karate, archery and fencing, among others.
“To think that I've already made it this far already is crazy to me,” Birch said.
Her coach, Jamaal Garner, isn’t as surprised. He said he saw his protege's potential the second time they met.
What Birch has is “natural power,” he told CTV National News.
“Natural ability to throw the punch with power, with ease, (and) not be as fatigued doing it.”
But her quick rise in the sport is still exceptional, he added.
“It's her work ethic,” Garner said. “Her work ethic and willingness and obsession with the sport that sets her apart. I've never seen anyone else as dedicated.”
Birch says she dreams of turning pro and one day donning the maple leaf at another high-profile tournament—the Olympics.
With files from Alexandra Mae Jones