Emma McGale may have been born in Canada and by that mere fact she was ‘Canadian,’ but she still didn’t feel like she was Canadian, despite the fact she had now lived in Toronto for a few years. She still considered herself to be English. After all, that was where she had lived for the majority of her life. However Toronto was, if not starting to feel like home, it was at least starting to feel comfortable. But the Canadian identity? She didn’t have that. Canadian accent? Not yet.
Emma entered one of the local restaurants that she, Virani, and Thomas often ate at, given it was nearby to MacVicar’s Gym. It wasn’t the fanciest restaurant in the world, and it’s imposing outward aesthetic of the mental hospital that it had been, the restaurant could seem imposing. But the staff were friendly, the food was good and the prices were reasonable. All around a solid combination.
Assisted by the helpful hostess, Emma made her way to the small private room that Anita had booked for their meeting. The other two participants were already there – Anita Martin, her promoter and manager, and Thomas Nagy, her coach and co-coach of a number of fighters in MacVicar’s gym.
The fighter affectionately known as ‘The Peach’ took the remaining seat at the table. The three shared some pleasantries and ordered their dinner. After the meal it was time for business. Emma wasn’t looking forward to it. By the fact that Anita paid for the dinner, she knew that the news that Anita was about to reveal was not going to be good. The fact that Virani wasn’t here was interesting. Emma wondered why the owner of Cobra promotions had been omitted from this meeting and whether she even knew she was being left out.
“So, we heard from the Canadian Boxing Federation about the Featherweight title today,” said Anita.
“And they’re going to give me the Canadian title and a special bonus?” Emma replied hopefully.
Anita folded her hands in front of her on the table, “No. They’ve ordered a title eliminator between you and Lexi Mills, with the winner taking on Mechelle Gauthier for the Canadian title.”
Emma let out a long sigh. “They are really making me win TWO fights before I can become Canadian champion? I have the best record in the division. Why aren’t they making Lexi fight Mechelle and have the winner fight me?”
Anita grimaced, “It’s politics.”
Thomas rubbed his forehead, “Can you give us a better explanation than that?”
Anita shrugged, “Sure. First of all, there’s almost certainly a bit of retribution against us for Virani dropping the belt.”
Thomas groaned, “Oh, come on! Virani played nice and wore that Canadian title all over the place. She defended it on a big platform on DAZN. What more could they want?”
“They want fealty,” Anita answered. “These guys are like petty bureaucrats, and now without Virani, there’s no chance of them getting plush VIP seats for a gigantic fight, or other perks. In fairness, having a marketable champion would make it easier for them to sell sponsorships, so there is a real reason there.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” Emma said. “I’m way more marketable than someone like Lexi. And the last time Mechelle was on a broadcasted fight, she was laying on the canvas, knocked out by Heather Barker.”
“There’s a more complicated politics than that at play as well,” admitted the veteran promoter. “It’s…Canadian politics.”
Emma looked down in consternation.
“Spell it out, Anita,” said Thomas impatiently.
“There’s two things. The first is just some classic xenophopia. You’re not from here. You may box under a Canadian license, but you speak with a funny accent. They aren’t going to hate it if you are champion, but they aren’t going to be inclined to give you any favours either. The second, is the most boring kind of politics. Canadian politics,” said Anita. “The last champion was from Ontario, and that means preference has to be given to the fighter from Quebec, aka Mechelle.”
Emma took a moment to parse that. She didn’t exactly blame the Canadian federation for favouring homegrown fighters. It rankled, but she understood it. The second part she did not understand at all. “Can you explain to me, an Englishwoman, why that is?”
“Can I distill hundreds of years of Canadian history and politics for easy consumption?” laughed Anita. “Sure, I’ll give it a shot.” Anita took a drink of water, “The best way I can say it is…basically, French-Canada thinks its special. If things don’t go their way its discrimination against French-Canadians, so they exert a lot of influence on things like these. And the reason that the Federation wants either of you to fight Mechelle is so they can market an Ontario vs. Quebec showdown. A battle of the two solitudes.”
“Two solitudes?” Asked Emma.
“I’ll get you a history book,” laughed Anita. “Basically Toronto vs. Montreal. The longest rivalry in Canadian history. Predates the founding of the country. But, I think we have to deal with the reality as it exists. I’ve spoken to Lexi Mills’ people and I think it’ll be easy to get a match made. We’ll do it in a small show here, where you can be the co-main event.”
Sizing up the Competition
Emma supposed there was no point in getting upset over what had already been decided. She turned her attention to Thomas, “You saw Lexi up close. What do you think?”
Thomas rubbed the back of his head, “Well, she’s one dimensional, but she’s pretty good at that one dimension. She’s a pure boxer. Not much pop in those gloves, but she stunned Virani a time or two. If I’m her, I’m thinking about jabbing my way to a boring victory. You’re bigger, more powerful, but Lexi moves well, so it won’t be easy to just punch your way to victory.”
“Lexi’s not durable though,” pointed out Emma. “Virani landed only a few power shots, but each one that landed really seemed to hurt her.” Emma turned her attention to Anita, “We should make sure we get judges that prefer power punches and a referee with a quick trigger finger on stoppages.”
Anita nodded and took out her phone to make a note. Emma leaned back in her chair and thought about Lexi Mills. She had seen Virani fight Lexi, and she had scouted Lexi in preparation for that fight. She was, as Thomas pointed out, one dimensional. If she couldn’t beat Lexi, a girl she would probably outweigh by 7-10 pounds at fight night, she didn’t deserve to be champion.
Emma, her brain working overtime, stood from the table, trying to gather her thoughts.
“What do we think about Mechelle,” Emma asked.
Thomas shrugged, “I trained her a bit, but she left a few years ago to go back to Montreal. Honestly, she is your doppelganger. She’s not gifted athletically, but she gets the most out of her talent. Her biggest weakness is she doesn’t have a good chin, but her strength is she has great coaching and she knows how to execute gameplans.”
“So she’s me.”
Thomas nodded, “Yes. You’re a big bigger, maybe. But you are mirror images of each other.”
Emma blew out a long breath, “So I have two win two fights in a row, neither of which I’m going to be much of a favourite in, to win the Canadian title. This sucks.”
Thomas shook his head in disagreement, “You’re the best non-Virani Featherweight in Canada. This will just give you the stage to prove it.”
The beautiful sentiment from her coach made Emma feel something deep inside. Tears welled in her eyes for a moment and she turned away to give her a moment to push them away. When she turned back around, Thomas was standing. Emma held her arms out and Thomas accepted the embrace.
“You’ll be champion if you believe you can be champion, Emma,” he said.
He released the hug, appraised her for a moment and then sat back down.
Emma smiled. “Alright. Let’s get started.”
Do you authors do political stuff at the same time on purpose? Haha!
Thanks for the Canadian history class. I’m not so familiar with the northern neighbours cultural differences so it’s nice to know.
Emma may feel like politics are making her path to a title more complicated, but it looks like she has a good chance.
Great minds tend to think alike :P.
Emma may feel hard done by, but realistically even if she was given the title tommorow, Lexi and Mechelle would be the fighters she’d be likely to face.
Politics, eh? I can imagine that both sides of the solitudes feel wronged somewhere.
Surely the majority of English-speaking Canadians are irritated when they hear complaints from their counterparts when it comes to fairness in sports, with the impression that they have to be nicer than necessary. I also bet that since French Canadians are a minority in their own country, they face a certain amount of discrimination, which they are quick to flag and perhaps too quick to flag as soon as they feel suspicious.
“Two solitudes” therefore sounds correct. Anyone who has been to Belgium has seen the same dynamics, which involve French minorities not being liked. I was in Brussels and had a question for people nearby, with only police officers a few feet away. I don’t know Flemish, they don’t speak German and my logic is that a little French will help to communicate. Wrong. They were keen to ignore me!
I honestly cringed a little when reading: “You’re the best non-Virani Featherweight in Canada.”
Let’s be brutal. Emma needs to become herself instead of always using Virani as a yardstick. A title is up for grabs, there are circumstances and she must make the best out of them. Lexi and Mechelle may stand in the way, but those are her challenges. Let her shine and make it due to her own skills.
There’s a lot in Canadian history about the conflict between English and French Canada. It’s fun to touch on it here – especially as tensions between Quebec and the rest of Canada are relatively low – this is a province that tried to separate from Canada (Twice!) in the 1990s. The 1995 vote was a narrow choice to remain in Canada. From then, tensions have faded, but Quebec and French-Canada is, in my view, a central part of Canada.
Your comparison between Belgium and Canada seems apt, from what I know about Belgian politics.
However that does effect politics in boxing too. In George Chuvalo’s book, the Canadian Federation seemed to be totally unfair to him, stripping him of his Canadian title at least twice, despite the fact the was the best Canadian Heavyweight BY FAR of that era. Pettiness always abounds.
The remark by Thomas is a bit cutting, but she’s identified a destiny for herself and she’s chasing it it. Now she has two obstacles in her path and she has to clear them.
Ah the one thing I could never care for especially now in real life, Politics….it’s one of the things that I really hate especially when it has to do with the dumb ass government:p
It is interesting though to see you and Alesia sometimes bring up politics or boxing politics into your stories lol.
Seems like Emma has some work to do to get the Canadian title. First she has to deal with Lexi Mills, didn’t think we see her again, what I can say is though is that Emma can definitely beat her, she is skilled with her Jabs but that’s pretty much all she’s really uses and she can’t take power shots, so beating her and figuring her out should be no problem, V only struggled because she came in to over confident, still won but was taking punches that she could have easily blocked or dodged. So yeah Emma can definitely beat her, will take few hits but shes got this.
Now Mechelle sounds a bit more challenging, a fighter that is almost like Emma, this will be tough for the peach for sure, they are really throwing a lot at her just to get the title, but I believe that Emma can beat both fighters and become the Canadian champion, and that hug with Thomas and Emma really cute ❤️ Go kick some ass ?!!! ?
I am curious though to why Virani isn’t there though, must be a good reason, or she’s just relaxing after her recent fight ?♂️
Boxing politics isn’t always the most fun, but boxing has it’s own political world behind the scenes. Alesia and I dive into the reality, even when it isn’t the most fun :P.
Emma’s got some work to do, she’s not happy about it, but at least her path is clear. Lexi’s a decent fighter, but as we know, pretty one dimensional.
Mechelle is possibly a bigger challenge, but she can’t look ahead to that fight, she’s got to take this one fight at a time.
Even though I’m not a fan of politics in general, like the way you guys bring it in to the stories.
but your Emma has to take this one step at a time, sorry about Lexi first then Mechelle afterwards
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