As cornerman for his brother Barry, Wayne Sponagle learned the ins and outs of the fight game, amateur and pro, and how to come out ahead.
Four decades later, on the opposite side of the continent, he's still passing that knowledge on to his boxers.
In his 31 years as a coach, he's devoted thousands of hours to training the likes of Laurie Mann, Steve Chase, Mike Hutt, Tony Vecchio, Allan "Bulldog" Bayne, Todd Hatley, Tim Galeos, and most recently, national-level fighters Marcus Hume and Thomas Speirs, and that's paid off in bringing provincial and national titles and international accolades home to Prince George.
Born and bred in New Glasgow, N.S., Sponagle moved to Prince George in 1978 and started the East-West Boxing Club, later to join the Spruce Capital Boxing Club stable. Sponagle's strategies in the sweet science were put into practice in the professional arena and his son George used them to formulate a gameplan that defeated Paul "Silky" Jones of England, a former light middleweight world champion.
At age 51, Sponagle tested his own ability in the ring, making his boxing debut against a 21-year-old, whom he fought to a draw.
Sponagle is the driving force behind the wheel of the Spruce Capital Warriors team van on road trips to boxing outposts in Western Canada, giving his athletes a chance to put into practice the tricks of the trade he has taught them. Win or lose, the life lessons his boxers learn have set them on the right path.
As a matchmaker, Sponagle's track record is spotless. He's organized dozens of fight cards and continues to show he knows how to pair two fighters and give boxing fans what they really want to see -- a close fight.
As a coach who treats his athletes like one of the family, as a young-beyond-his-years fighter, and as a tireless promoter of everything boxing, Sponagle has left an indelible impression on the local fight scene worthy of his induction into the Prince George Sports Hall of Fame.