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This teen took to boxing to get in shape. She is now on Team Canada

This teen took to boxing to get in shape.  She is now on Team Canada

Windsor teen boxer Jarrilyn Castillo stays light on her feet as she plays with shadow boxes in the ring at Border City Boxing Club on Drouillard Road.

Her fists stab the air, punctuated by a screaming gasp.

“Garlin’ the Jolly Rancher,” says her trainer Andre Goerges. He wants to change her nickname from “Jewel” to a reference to the candy. “What is your favorite color?”

“Maybe green or red,” Castillo answers, without missing a beat or breath.

Windsor boxer Jarrilen Castillo, 17, shadowboxes in the ring at the Border City Boxing Club on Drouillard Road. (Dalson Chen/CBC)

Just three years ago, showing speed and endurance was not so easy for Castillo. The 17-year-old athlete says her weight ballooned during the coronavirus lockdowns.

“My physical health deteriorated quite dramatically. I weighed about 250 odd pounds,” she recalls.

When Castillo emerged from the era of social distancing, she turned to boxing — a family tradition — to shed excess weight.

A teenage girl talking in front of the boxing ring.
Windsor boxer Jarilyn Castillo, 17, talks about her training at the Border City Boxing Club on Drouillard Road. (Dalson Chen/CBC)

When she was a little girl, she would accompany her older brother to his training sessions at the Border City Boxing Club. Her uncle was heavily involved in the sport in the Dominican Republic, where her parents immigrated.

“Basically, boxing has been in my family ever since, forever,” Castillo says. “I love it. I can't put it into words… I feel like boxing has helped me with a lot of things, not just physically.”

A teenage boxer hits pads held by a trainer in the ring.
Windsor boxer Jarrilyn Castillo, 17, practices pad exercises with her trainer Josh Canty at the Border City Boxing Club. (Dalson Chen/CBC)

Besides helping Castillo drop nearly 100 pounds on the scale, this activity ignited her competitive fire. Over the past two years, she has participated in several amateur tournaments in the female youth 75kg category.

Castillo had her biggest win yet in March, claiming first place in her division at the 2024 Canada Cup Junior National Championships in Calgary.

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The win earned Castillo a spot on Team Canada. What made it especially important to her was that she fought an opponent who had defeated her in a previous tournament.

“When I went there, I decided I really needed to play my game on it,” Castillo says. “I really needed to put my heart into it.”

A boxing club trainer stands next to a speed bag.
Windsor boxing coach Andre Goerges at Border City Boxing Club on Drouillard Road. (Dalson Chen/CBC)

Jorges said he appreciates Castillo's style as a technical boxer, but the coaches at Border City encourage her to get more in the ring — and she's implemented that game plan in Calgary.

“Now the judges want that aggressiveness,” says Jorges. “She works hard, especially lately. She's strong in that area, too.”

Bald, bearded man smiling in front of the boxing ring.
Josh Canty, president of the Border City Boxing Club on Drouillard Road in Windsor. (Dalson Chen/CBC)

Club president Josh Canty believes Castillo has “all the potential in the world”.

“She entered the sport during COVID-19, and that really hampered her opportunities. But now we're back on track, and she's the national champion. Now we can start getting opportunities, including going to training camps and being able to represent Canada at the world championships.” “World Championships.”

Teenage boxer warms up with a jump rope.
Jarlene Castillo, 17, jumps rope to warm up at the Border City Boxing Club on Drouillard Road in Windsor. (Dalson Chen/CBC)

Canty, who works in education, says he has post-lockdown concerns about the physical and mental health of “a lot of kids,” including Castillo.

“Coronavirus has taken a huge hit on all of us. But she's coming back strong… She just needs to keep training, keep listening, keep learning. She has a great team, and we're seeing great things for her. She's the best.” “A gem. A diamond in the rough, Garlin.”

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