In or out of the boxing ring, Hammer Time might just be Jonathan Hannah’s theme song. The national bronze medallist from North Vancouver, B.C., can trade blows with the best boxers the country offers, and he swings a hammer pretty well to help those less fortunate.
Hannah, 17, is a devout teen who helped build a church in Mexico and always lends a hand for the kids at Sunday school. He is also gunning for gold in the 75 kg. weight class at the Canada Winter Games.
“Jonathan’s an incredibly hard working athlete,” says B.C. boxing coach Dave Brett. “He’s a good, solid young man. He has ethics and he has compassion and integrity, and I think through all of that he’s able to focus on really hard work and put the effort in to compete in the ring.”
The boxing tournament begins Sunday at Westerner Park and Hannah will have his hands full with Estéban Nadeau of Drummondville, Que., a three-time Gold Gloves champion. A fighter must lose twice to be eliminated from competition.
“I have to mentally stay focussed and visualize what’s going to happen,” says Hannah, a Grade 12 student at Seycove Secondary School. “I’ve always liked to work hard. I try to keep disciplined with my training schedule and on things involving my faith – reading my bible, doing devotions.”
Hannah works at Mennonite summer camps and takes on the heavy lifting whenever required. He travelled to Mexico two summers ago and helped restore an old church, digging trenches and pounding nails on the project.
Religious teachings don’t stand in the way of his competitive nature. “Boxing is a sport and you’re there to compete, just like the other guy, under a set of rules and guidelines,” Hannah says. “I’m not just going up to people on the street and searching for a fight when I don’t need it.”
Hannah hopes a strong performance at the Canada Games can draw the attention of national team coaches, a level he would like to reach after high school. As for this week, he’s had his own eyes opened to the skill of other athletes at the Games.
“I watched table tennis after training. There’s ping-pong and then there’s table tennis. That looks so hard, oh my gosh,” he says. “That’s a very light ball and somehow they manage to hit it and make it do exactly what they want. It’s like – respect, man.”
I think he hit the nail on the head.