A week before Jayden Trudell was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, he signed up for a class at Border City Boxing, unaware that he would be violently attacked by a group of older boys.
The attack near WF Herman High School in September. On December 12, 2018, he suffered a fractured skull, brain hemorrhage, hearing damage, a debilitating concussion and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Due to the severity of his injuries, doctors told him he would never be able to box again and suggested he find another sport.
Five years after the attack, the 19-year-old is fighting for a place in the Summer Olympics.
“After all the bullying at school, I felt like a victim, I felt weak. I just found that it was something I could do to not feel that way,” Trudell told CBC News.
Following the attack, Trudell’s grandfather took him to Border City Boxing on Drouillard Road where he met his current trainer, Andre Gorges. Gorges was reluctant to accept it because he was not capable of fighting, per doctor’s orders, but he was capable of training.
“So he got in the ring and he started shadow boxing and I said you know what, he’s not bad, let me face him and see what he does from now,” Gorges said.
Point to prove
For two years, Trudell trained in hopes that doctors would clear him to compete, putting all his energy into getting faster and stronger – and it paid off.
“I’ve never seen anyone work so hard. I’ll probably never see another human being work so hard come through these doors,” Gorges said.
The gym, a refuge for Trudell when bullying at school raged.
“The attack was bad, but what happened after the attack, like all bullying… It was probably much worse than the attack itself. I was just a kid with a big target in my head. back,” Trudell said.
“[Boxing] That was the only perspective, a good perspective that I had because school was horrible. “I had no friends, nothing, so that’s all I looked forward to every day,” Trudell said.
After about two years, doctors cleared Trudell to compete and he has been winning ever since.
Fight to the top
In just a year and a half, he won the provincial and national boxing championships in his weight category and won gold at a major tournament in Finland in April.
“It doesn’t even really seem real in a sense. It’s like a Cinderella story, it just seems like something you watch or a movie. It doesn’t seem real to me,” Trudell said.
The next hurdle for Trudell will be the Olympic trials in Montreal in December. He will compete against a higher weight class, as his current weight class is not an Olympic weight class.
Trudell said he wasn’t too worried.
“I just have a fire in me and when the time is right, I’m there, I fight.”
Watching Trudell just outside the ring, his grandfather – who followed the ambulance from Windsor to London that day in September 2018 and who tirelessly championed the boy’s cause after the assault and throughout throughout the trial that followed – can’t help but smile. .
“It’s probably not the sport I would have preferred him in, nor his mother or grandmother. I suggested he bowl once, but it wasn’t too ambitious,” said Kevin Trudell laughing.
He recalls a memory of Jayden calling him when he was struggling with his mental health, asking him to drive him to the gym – a place Jayden always found his place.
Kevin Trudell is quick to point out all the pictures of his grandson on the walls and the impact Jayden has had on some of the younger kids he trains at Border City Boxing.
“This place was Jayden’s saving grace,” Kevin Trudell said.
“This place made Jayden who he is today.”
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