Joanna Markin watched with pride as Brayden Hellekson’s arm was raised in the boxing ring after he punched his way to a bronze medal on Wednesday night at the Canada Winter Games.

It was only a few days earlier she watched her son compete live for the first time.

“I’m proud of him beyond belief,” said Markin. “But, it is still scary to see him in there.”
Hellekson (Nelson) was beaming after the fight, which was aired on TSN, as he made his way to the media zone.

“I feel great about tonight to have a win in the second round and to bring the bronze home to Nelson is just amazing,” said Hellekson after defeating Seamus O’Brien from Newfoundland and Labrador, in the 81 kilogram event.

In his first Games bout, Hellekson (Nelson) defeated Josh Peck from Alberta after one round when the referee stopped the contest.

“I had a friend from Calgary come up and sit with me. I wasn’t sure if I was going to cheer or throw up or what I was going to do,” she said. “Since it was only one round, I was super happy. I could see that he just jumped in confidence after that knowing what he could do in the ring.”

After losing to Isaiah Haya of New Brunswick the following night, Hellekson bounced back to defeat Quinn Neald, from Saskatchewan, by a judges score of 4-1 to take him into the bronze medal bout.

A common story with many parents, Markin said she has had a tenuous relationship at times with her 17-year-old son.

“This has been incredible for us. He has become great with me,” said Markin, choking up as she speaks. “I really wanted to spend some time with him and support him because we had a rough go.”

The mom and son have been training early in the morning, going to the gym together occasionally. His younger sister also made it to the Games to cheer him on, waving a giant sign with his name at the venue. Hellekson already has a strong bond with his father, a former boxer, who he trains with often.

“Brayden’s boxing has definitely bringing our family closer, it is just so neat,” said Markin.

Hellekson said hearing support from the crowd kept him going.

“No matter where he gets to after this, I am proud of him. He made it here to the Canada Winter Games and that is a huge accomplishment,” said Markin.