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Airdrie boxer to compete at Canada Winter Games next month

“I’m excited to go there and know it’s a really big opportunity for my career.”
Coming off a successful debut, Airdrie's Emily Vigneault is going to box at the 2023 Canada Winter Games next month.

Emily Vigneault may be a rookie in the sport of boxing, but she's no stranger to the ring. 

The just-turned 16-year-old member of Airdrie's Humble Boxing Academy is coming off a successful boxing debut earlier this month, with a pair of victories in her two bouts at the Silver Gloves competition in Medicine Hat Jan. 14 and 15. 

Now, the Grade 11 Bert Church High School student-athlete is in preparation mode as she gets set to travel to Prince Edward Island next month to compete in the 2023 Canada Winter Games, as the only female member of Alberta's boxing team. 

“I’m excited to go there and know it’s a really big opportunity for my career,” she said. 

Vigneault took up boxing two years ago, during the early parts of the COVID-19 pandemic. But she brought an extensive background in martial arts, as a former competitive Muay Thai kickboxer. 

She finished second at the World Youth Muay Thai Championship in 2017 at the age of 10. Two years later, at 12 years old, Vigneault defeated the reigning Canadian national Muay Thai champion for her age group.

Vigneault said she started to train in boxing as a way to improve on her punching, as it was an area she felt was a weakness in her Muay Thai career. However, she quickly found she preferred the hands-only discipline, and started to consider switching to boxing full-time.

“I fell way more in love with boxing than I did with Muay Thai, so I’ve completely transitioned to boxing,” she said. “It’s opened a lot of new doors as well.”

To further her development, Vigneault joined Humble Boxing Academy, an Airdrie-based gym that opened in January 2022. She started training under head coach Lucas George, who got Vigneault ready for her first boxing matches. 

According to Vigneault, her background in Muay Thai has helped make her a difficult boxer to defend against.

“The people I spar with or who have seen me spar – everyone says I have a very unique style and it’s awkward to [defend] because I’m constantly switching my stance and I’m ambidextrous in boxing,” she said. “I have a Muay Thai style mixed with a boxing style, and that [makes it] hard for other people to read me.”

George said it's taken some time for Vigneault to adjust to her new sport, but believes her ceiling in boxing can be just as high as it was in Muay Thai.

“She told me she’s not interested in doing Muay Thai anymore and wants to take boxing seriously,” he said. 

George explained that even though Muay Thai and boxing are both fight sports, they're technically on opposite sides of the same spectrum and thus require differing skillsets and techniques.

“We’ve worked hard on her foot work, her hand placement, her head movement – it’s all had to change,” he said. “It’s harder to change someone from a different martial art than it is to teach someone from scratch.

“She’s worked extremely hard, changing her fighting style and her performances speak for themselves.”

Vigneault's hard work in the last year has clearly paid off. Even before her successful bouts in Medicine Hat earlier this month, she'd been scouted by Boxing Alberta and invited to join the provincial boxing team that will compete at the Canada Winter Games – a multi-sport extravaganza that will see thousands of the country's top junior-age athletes compete across a variety of sports. 

“I didn’t even have any boxing fights [under me] when they reached out, but I’m pretty sure they saw me sparring and decided they wanted me on the team,” Vigneault said.

Having grown accustomed to success in her Muay Thai career, the teen fighter said her goal for the upcoming Canada Winter Games is to simply keep winning, no matter who she comes up against in the ring.

To help fund Vigneault's participation at the Winter Games, a GoFundMe page was set up with the goal of raising $1,500. The page can be found at

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