Boxing? On NCPR?! On a Sunday? Beside peacefully nesting herons and poetry recitations? What gives?
A fund raiser for cancer care and research, that’s what. And a closely watched grudge match between two of Canada’s “hottest” politicians.
OK, that word (“hottest”) needs an explanation. For context, imagine President Kennedy lived and served two (non-consecutive) terms. And died of prostate cancer at age 80. And imagine JFK’s handsome son JFK Jr. did not perish in a plane crash, but entered politics too, with speculation of someday running for president himself.
That would be semi-analogous to Canada’s Justin Trudeau, now a Liberal MP from Quebec and son of the late Pierre Trudeau. Love him or hate him, Pierre Trudeau was arguably Canada’s most charismatic Prime Minister, ever. With a beautiful, much-younger wife (Margaret Sinclair Trudeau Kemper) who also made headlines over time. (Yes, yes. Beautiful and handsome are subjective, over-rated terms. But looks and glamor are surely part of this story – like it or not – so bear with me on that.)
Pierre and Margaret’s oldest child, Justin Trudeau, is now 40, married, and a father twice over. He started out as a teacher, before turning to politics. He’s been known to make the occasional gaff, and pretty much the whole country is still trying to figure out just how much substance lies behind the famous name and face. Trudeau also likes to box, something he’s done in gyms for years.
Trudeau decided to partake in Fight for the Cure’s cancer fund raiser and says he was a bit surprised to have trouble finding an opponent. Eventually, Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau accepted. The two have history in terms of exchanging critical words in the political realm. Anticipation of their fight with fists heated up from there.
Brazeau is young as Senators go, and wasn’t born to wealth and prominence. (All Senators are appointed in Canada.) The 37-year-old Algonquin hails from the Kitigan Zibi reserve near Maniwaki, Quebec. Brazeau holds a second-degree black belt in karate, served in the Canadian Forces and as the appointed (then elected) national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.
Since I’m establishing “hot” credentials, I’ll add that Brazeau sports a pony tail, handsome looks and a most excellent tattoo. And displays a healthy dislike for young Trudeau. (Note: Trudeau has a tattoo as well. Politicians look different these days, the younger ones, anyway!)
Pre-match trash talk ran high and the event quickly sold out. Odds were heavily for Brazeau, though a number of observers felt Trudeau stood a chance in an Olympic-style 3 round match that would be scored on points. A side bet stipulated the loser must submit to a haircut and wear the opponent’s jersey for a week. The whole ball of wax was already plenty dramatic, when Trudeau’s maternal grandmother, Kathleen Sinclair, died a few days before the match.
The fight was last night, the most highly-anticipated match-up of several bouts. The full video can be seen here and still photos here. Justin “Shiny Pony” (as one commentator dubbed him) looked lanky and a tad awkward to my untrained eye. But he had more stamina, a longer reach and he stayed tough. Brazeau apparently fell prey to underestimating his opponent and appeared under-prepared, in terms of conditioning.
The younger fighter tried end it all early in the first round in a flurry of hard body hits. But Brazeau simply ran out of gas under a steady and accelerating return from the taller Trudeau. Trudeau’s longer jabs began to mar Brazeau’s face and bloody his nose. The referee stopped the fight in the third round, with Trudeau still looking strong.
Brazeau said what hurt most was his ego. He hopes for a rematch next year.
Fight for the Cure’s white-collar boxing events raise money for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, an organization “dedicated to increasing cancer survivorship in Eastern Ontario”. Saturday’s multiple bouts reportedly raised $230,000.
Here’s Round 1 via Youtube: