Three brothers from Kennetcook are building their reputations as forces to be reckoned with in the boxing ring.
The Sanford siblings — 18-year-old Devin, 16-year-old Ryan and 15-year-old Wyatt — train out of the Citadel Amateur Boxing Club in Lower Sackville.
Under the direction of coach Wayne Gordon, a former Olympian, each boxer has won multiple provincial championship fights in the four years they’ve been competing.
“We’ve got one hell of a coach,” said Wyatt, a 2020 Olympic Summer Games hopeful.
Wyatt has provincial, national and world championship titles under his belt. In February, he travelled to Puerto Rico to hone his skills at an Olympic Training Centre in a place where boxing is considered a national sport.
“There’s a lot of technique to it — a lot of strategy. You don’t just go out there throwing punches and hoping for the best,” said Wyatt, the 2014 recipient of the provincial Male Athlete of the Year Award for boxing.
Both Wyatt and Ryan often travel outside of Nova Scotia, or even Canada, to find opponents in their respective age and weight categories to challenge in the ring.
“Wyatt has been the Canadian champ for the last three years and Ryan has placed in either silver or bronze for the last four years in Canada,” said their mother, Angela Sanford.
Once — and only once — she allowed her two youngest boxers to square off in the ring for an exhibition game that would help Ryan qualify for a national competition.
“I totally won,” Wyatt teased, earning a disapproving glare from his slightly older, much quieter brother.
The brothers often spar to sharpen their skills, but each sibling has a unique boxing style. The wily Wyatt is more likely to hang back and pick his punches, and Ryan’s come to be known for packing a powerful punch.
“I have the opposite style. My strength is probably my strength and conditioning,” said Ryan.
“Most of the men in the gym even would tell you that they don’t like taking a punch from Ryan,” his mother added.
All three brothers recently travelled to Cornwall, Ontario to compete in the second annual Canadian Golden Gloves tournament. Both Ryan and Wyatt returned home with gold medals. Devin, who was not available for an interview, won his first match in preliminary rounds and lost his second by a split decision.
Asked which Sanford brother is the best boxer, Ryan and Wyatt turned to one another and smirked.
Breaking character to break the silence, Ryan eventually offered his two cents.
“That depends on who you ask,” he joked.