A THROWBACK TO FTEC2012 | FEATURING KASSANDRA O’REILLY
The Fight To End Cancer (FTEC) has increasingly grown, as the years have passed, raising over $500,000 in direct donations to cancer research at the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and spreading awareness about the cause.
Over 50 fighters have fought in the event since its inception in 2011 and each and every one of them hold a special place in the FTEC family. It’s hard to believe that it’s been over been 5 years since the inaugural FTEC Gala and we’ll never forget where we first started and the very first fighters who decided to lace up gloves for this big fight!
Kassandra O’ Reilly and her twin brother Josh were both on the first card of that special night in 2012.
“Is she really going to fight? Is someone going to actually hit her in the face?” Questions that have consistently trended for the female fighters, since day one. Featuring a female bout on the fight card has always been an important component for FTEC Founder, Jennifer Huggins, who explains in her own words:
“Including a female bout in the Fight To End Cancer is an important component of the event. It’s essential that we create dialogue around women in boxing. Not only are they raising money to fight cancer, but they are instrumental pieces to the puzzle when it comes to helping people to recognize that boxing is a sport for everyone.”
Not only was Kassandra a “real boxer”, but she was the reigning 48kg Provincial Champion. Kassandra and her opponent, Janaya Khan, were the only female bout of the night, which made their fight even more special. Kassandra wanted to steal the show and impress – and impress she did! Both boxers pushed each other to their limit, as they both landed combinations and implemented their strategies to a tee. The crowd roared in excitement, as they knew they were witnessing something incredibly special. Their bout would lay the benchmark for every female bout that would occur at FTEC for years to come.
With coach Bob Wilcox in her corner and the memory of her grandparents and friend Robbie, Kassandra didn’t stop and gave it all she had all the way until the final bell rang!
MEET KASSANDRA O’REILLY
Can you tell us about some of the highlights of your boxing journey, so far? What has to be your favourite moment out of all your accomplishments? Why?
- Canadian Gold Medalist x2
- Canadian Silver Medalist x3
- Canadian Bronze Medalist x2
- Provincial Gold Medalist x2
- Provincial Silver Medalist x3
- Brampton Cup Champion x2
- Silver Gloves Champion x1
I have had plenty of great moments, but I will never forget the trips and tournaments I participated in. Ringside World Championships in Kansas City was my very first bout ever. It was pretty nerve racking considering there were hundreds of people and five other rings surrounding me. Although I lost, its a moment I will never forget. I also really enjoyed fighting at the FTEC. It was my most meaningful fight and I will forever be honoured to have participated in such an amazing event.
What are the things that you do to get mentally prepared before a big fight?
Prior to any fight, or tournament, I will write reminders and quotes in my room, or on my phone to help motivate me through my training. When it comes down to fight day – I tend to do a lot of self-talk, put my mind in a positive state and listen to music to keep me focused.
I do not necessarily have any rituals that I constantly do prior to fighting; however, I feel much more comfortable and confident when I talk to my brother prior to stepping in the ring. We discuss game plans and he does his best to hype me up. I always tend to wear the same blue and red outfits for every fight I have. I also always warm up in one specific jacket.
Have you thought about participating more in the sport by possibly becoming a coach, or an official? If so, why?
I’ve thought about officiating, however I changed my mind. I would much rather be a coach. I currently teach a ladies boxing class and help beginners in the gym. I would love to get my coaching licence and become a coach.
What advice, or type of motivation would you give to someone who is thinking about taking up boxing for the first time?
I would say to never give up! Boxing is a sport that takes a lot of time and dedication. Believe in yourself and push your limits, your hard work will pay off.
You fought at the first ever Fight To End Cancer, how does fighting in an event such as FTEC differ from fighting at a club show?
As any fight is important, this fight was especially important. I was not only fighting for myself this time. I was fighting for any individual who suffers from, or has suffered from this horrible disease. I dedicated my fight to my grandmother (who had passed 6 months’ prior), my grandfather and also my coach’s son, who have fought and lost their battles. It was a really special event for me. My grandfather was a former boxer and I knew he was most definitely with me and my brother in our corners that night.
What are some goals that you have for the future of your boxing career?
I have nothing planned, as of yet. I will train hard for this year’s provincials/nationals and see where I go from there.
What advice would you give to the boxers who will be training to fight in next year’s event?
Fighting in the ring is one small step towards ending the battle against cancer. This is a fight we can win. Prepare and train hard, do it for those people you love and admire the most. Take action, stay calm and fight on! 🙂
If you’re interested in helping our cause, or even becoming one of the fighters who lace up the gloves to fight the good fight, make sure to visit: