The Eye Of The Tiger

Windsor Boxer Overcomes Incredible
Odds to Become #1 in Canada

Story by Matthew St. Amand
Photography by John Liviero

On the first weekend of February, eighteen year old Windsor native, Jayden Trudell, took the gold in his division (67 kilograms) at the Elite National Championships held in Brampton.

The path to victory was like something from Greek mythology: three bouts over the course of three days. 

“Jayden’s first bout was Friday night at ten p.m. against Ijaaz Faheem from B.C.,” says Jayden’s mom Kelley Trudell. “His second took place on Saturday at nine p.m. against Sammy Morisset from Quebec. The championship bout happened at three p.m. on Sunday.” 

Jayden Trudell, Gold metal winner of the Elite National Championships.

In the title fight, Jayden faced Jacob Blais of Quebec. As soon as the opening bell rang, punches flew fast and furious. Years of training and strategy battled for supremacy with both fighters’ nervous, excited energy—like a rodeo rider on a bunking bronco. The spectators cheered wildly.

“A large group from Windsor went to Brampton for the bout,” Kelley says. “There were about thirty-five friends and family and people from the gym there.”

The fighters were evenly matched, trading punches, but it was not long before Jayden’s dominance became apparent. He stalked his opponent relentlessly. Blais landed the odd punch but Jayden zeroed-in with punishing blows, delivering combinations to the head and body. Blais was a formidable opponent, quick, powerful, taking advantage of openings but he was no match for Jayden, who won the fight by unanimous decision.

“My toughest opponent was definitely Jacob,” Trudell later told local media. “It was a dogfight and a good war but I still won with a unanimous decision.” 

It was a bout that almost never happened.

Four years ago, Jayden was the target of an unprovoked attack by three older boys. The assault left him with injuries so severe, they could not be treated in Windsor. Doctors said that one more blow to the head during the assault might well have killed him. Jayden was transported to London for treatment. Incredibly, he recuperated from his injuries and was back at school four months later. 

The attack came when Jayden was just starting to get serious about boxing. Showing an interest in the sport at the age of twelve, Jayden’s grandfather, retired Windsor Police Sergeant, Kevin Trudell, made sure he went to the right gym and received proper guidance.

“We went over to MTC Club, where I knew Rino Belcastro,” Kevin explains. “Jayden tried kickboxing and MMA but he really took to boxing, so they suggested I take him over to Border City Boxing Club so coach Andre Gorges could see what he could do.”

Jayden beating Khol Adams for the gold medal at the Ontario Provincial in Nov 2022. Photo by Virgil Barrow.

During that first visit, Andre watched Jayden doing pad work in the ring and said what everyone else observed: “Man, he hits hard!”

“Then he smiled,” Kevin remembers. “And said: ‘I can teach him to hit harder.’”

Problem was, Andre had a long list of fighters waiting to be coached by him. But Andre saw something in Jayden, his power, his commitment and moved him to the top of the list, agreeing to coach him.

“Andre’s been huge to Jayden’s success,” Kevin says.

Another person who helped in Jayden’s development has been professional MMA fighter, Kyle “Killshot” Prepolec. 

“He and Jayden hit it off,” Kevin says. “It’s like a big brother thing. A few days before the championship bout, Kyle sparred with Jayden.”

Following the vicious assault, Andre continued coaching Jayden even when it looked like he may never fight in the ring again. Doctors did not clear Jayden to fight for fourteen months. During that time, Jayden tapped into the otherworldly resources of discipline within himself and continued training. 

“I train three to four times a day,” Jayden says matter-of-factly. This involves skipping, running in place while punching the air, shadowboxing for three rounds, floating around the ring, using the arm bike, lifting weights and of course a ten to twelve kilometer run.

Jayden winning the semi final match that advanced him to the Ontario finals 2023. Photo by Virgil Barrow.

Finally, the day came when Jayden was cleared to compete. His very first boxing match was in Detroit. The fighter Jayden was supposed to face didn’t show up, so a replacement was presented: a boxer who was two years older, substantially bigger and had seven fights. Although it was a mismatch, the bout went forward. 

“I lost,” Jayden says, “but it was good experience. I knew what I needed to do. My coach saw it as an opportunity.”

He continues: “You feel so many emotions when you get in the ring for your first bout. I was in Detroit and nobody knew me. I was nervous and excited and all my training went to hell!” 

That was in late 2019. Today, Jayden is 19-2. It’s a feat that has left many people quite astonished: within twenty bouts, Jayden is number one in Canada in his weight division. 

“I called Jayden on Monday morning, after he won the championship,” Kevin says. “I asked him how he felt. Andre gave him the day off. Jayden said he felt all right and went to the gym that day to train. He got there before Andre!”

Asked what surprised Jayden the most about boxing, he says: “Being part of a team. People said ‘Boxing is the loneliest sport’ because you’re alone on the road
running, just you in the ring with your opponent but I train with a great group of guys and girls. I’ve made some life-long friendships.”

He is also quick to express gratitude for the love and support he’s received from his mother, Kelley and grandparents, Kevin and Laurie. He is also thankful for all his coaches have done for him: Andre Gorges, Josh Canty, Kyle “Killshot” Prepolec and all the supporters who went to Brampton to see him fight.

As for his immediate plans: “Since I’m number one in Canada I’ll be on Team Canada,” Jayden says, “so I’ll go to the IBA Men’s World Boxing Championships.”

And his long-term plans?

“The 2024 Olympics in Paris,” Jayden says. 

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