A Fighting Chance - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

A Fighting Chance

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Brett Leonard had one fight playing in the Federal Hockey league. 

"Once we locked up he one punched me and I fell," Leonard said.

The South Burlington native was down again four months ago after blowing out his knee. The injury keeping him out of the rink, but opened up an avenue into the ring.

"Two years ago, I helped doing the strength and conditioning for my good friend, John Haley, as he got ready for Golden Gloves."

Leonard called Haley to ask if he'd help train Brett for this year's Northern New England Golden Gloves that was taking place in a few months.

"He thought I was nuts," Leonard said.  "He said people train for at least a year to get ready for a a tournament like Golden Gloves."

Brett took that as a challenge, training four times a day, dropping 40 pounds in the process.  It all led up to his first sanctioned match back in mid January.  A fight he won by unanimous decision.

"That feeling afterwards was probably the best feeling I've had in sports," Leonard said.

Leonard's success in the ring didn't surprise his former Catamount teammates and coach.

"He went through a lot in his five years here to become a pretty solid contributor here by the end,"  UVM Captain H.Z. Lenz said.  "Anybody who can do that has a pretty good work ethic and I guess that kind of goes hand in hand with boxing also."

"He was always one of our best conditioned student athletes,"  UVM Head Hockey Coach Kevin Sneddon said.  "He's a pretty tough customer, did a lot of the little things. So I could see him having the right mindset to step in the ring and give it his all like he did when he played here for us."

Brett's got a great advantage over the rest of his competitors. He trains in his own Gym, The Vermont Hockey Training Center, which he opened about two years ago.  However, when it came to Brett's Northern New England Golden Gloves Championship match in Burlington a couple of weeks ago, experience won out.

"Part of me is happy that I lost, because it will keep me hungry keep me wanting to train hard for a year and try to win it next year," Leonard said.

From Hockey's heavy hits, to boxing's big blows. Brett Leonard's hard work has always given him a fighting chance.

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