Stevie Bailey, the Coach You Want in Your Corner
Coach Stevie works with World Class Boxers like Steve Rolls
Inside West End Athletic Club, he’s known as Coach Stevie; and his resume confirms that he has earned that title.
- 2 time winner of Boxing Ontario Coach of the Year, winning it for the first time at the age of 24 (the youngest Coach to have ever received the award)
- Three athletes in IBA ranking as top 10 in the world
- Helped athletes to Continental, Pan American, and World Championships
- Has Coached athletes to 50 Ontario Provincial tournament championship wins (Golden Gloves, Silver Gloves, Bronze Gloves, and Brampton Cup)
And that is just a glimpse at some of Coach Stevie’s accomplishments throughout his Coaching career to date. Add to the list that, as of February 2023, Stevie became the Head Coach and Boxing Program Director for West End AC. His job at West End is to oversee all of the Coaches and introduce an infrastructure to both the fitness classes offered and the technical boxing classes. Stevie remembers when he met the Capupuccitti family, Silvia, Danny, and Vinny owners of West End AC, back in 2018 when he attended a charity event West End was hosting; Stevie was training one of the fighters.
They started to loosely keep in touch by reciprocally following one another on social media. “I would like some of their posts, they would like mine.” Then in 2021, Silvia reached out to Stevie, inviting him to West End, “she was pretty persistent to get me down there, but in the nicest way. I saw it as an opportunity to go and also introduce her to Sara (Haghighat-joo, a Boxer and also Stevie’s wife) because I knew Silvia was looking for someone to Coach their Saturday classes.”
Nothing But Good Things At West End AC
If it were up to Silvia, Stevie is sure he would’ve officially started working there much sooner. Sara did take over the Saturday Boxing Classes, and Stevie found himself in and out of West End. “Silvia couldn’t have gone out of her way more to help me out. At the time, I was all over the place, and she allowed me to use her gym for sparring sometimes.” Stevie started training his athletes at West End AC last August, being there on a daily basis and really getting a feel for and understanding of their environment. And now, “I can’t speak highly enough about West End AC and the people there.”
When asked what it meant for Stevie Bailey to join the West End AC team, Silvia Cappuccitti, owner, had nothing but good things to say:
“Having Coach Stevie Bailey onboard with us here at West End AC is the missing puzzle piece that we needed. He has the expertise and boxing knowledge that has catapulted our programming and coaching team to the level that I knew we were destined for. I’m a true believer that when one door closes another door opens. Stevie came to us when we were just coming out of the pandemic and when there was a lot of uncertainty with the quality and longevity of coaches in this industry. He, along with Sara, has graciously set the standard for the rest of the coaching team in the gym.
Stevie is as solid as solid can be in all aspects. I can confidently say that he is one of the top boxing coaches in Canada, and more importantly, one of the best human beings that you will ever meet. His pro and amateur boxers along with our amateurs, athletes, fitness members, my coaching staff, and my family can attest to this statement. He has your best interest at heart on every level. Like the mission statement that we have on our website states, ‘We invite you to be a part of a community that cares for one another and that champions each other’s success’ … we’ve always nurtured this amongst our membership, athletes, staff and team and it’s evident in the culture that we have fostered over the years. However, this statement and belief have way more meaning now that Stevie Bailey has joined us.”
West End Athletic Club owner, Silvia Cappuccitti, and Stevie Bailey join forces.
Coach Stevie’s Boxing Team from left to right: Ryan Rozicki 17-1(16kos), Carolyn Redmomd 6-1(3kos), Uriel Perez 19-5(18kos), Josh Wagner 15-0(8kos), Lucas Bahdi 13-0(11kos), Michael Affainie 8-0(4kos), Jake Daoust 5-1(3kos), Sara Haghighat-Joo 2-0, 2024 Olympic Hopeful, Steve Rolls 22-2 (12kos)
Once officially hired, Stevie’s job has been to create consistency for the members so they can make the most of their time. It’s important to provide structure to the classes being offered from Monday to Friday so that members know what to expect and they can plan their workouts based on their needs. In bringing his pro fighters with him, Stevie doesn’t have to commute all over to train his athletes; West End AC provides a facility for all levels of athletes, from pro to amateur, for those that just want to work out, and to young people. “It has a phenomenal gym program.”
Stevie will also be responsible for helping to develop their youth program in addition to having started a West End Amateur Team and is proud that within 3 months, West End AC hosted their first Friday Night Fights on April 21, 2023. Of 11 bouts, 9 were from West End fighting in front of a sold-out crowd of 500 people. The relationship between West End AC and Stevie is already proving to be a win-win.
Coaching Boxing, Wasn’t Even On Stevie’s Radar
Born on the Southwest Coast of Ireland in Galway County, on one of three small islands, boxing was a part of his culture. As the youngest of 8, 3 brothers and 4 sisters, Stevie was used to standing up for himself. Although the only sibling of his that had a brief stint boxing was his oldest brother, the rest of his family were very big fans of the sport. At the age of 6, Stevie started going to a local boxing gym that was near his family’s home. In truth, “as an athlete, I wasn’t that good at the start, I just stuck with it” Stevie reflected.
In his athlete’s corner, Coach Stevie at West End AC’s inaugural Fight Night with Amateur Fighter Raj-Kabir Birk
At the age of 13, Stevie started helping other fighters at the gym at the request of his Coach. Then, when he was 17, he left home and met a guy named Mick O’Grady, who had just returned from the United States to Ireland. Mick had spent time in the USA working with some elite pro Coaches and greatly influenced Stevie in regard to Boxing and, eventually, Coaching. “I was inadvertently Coaching people, I didn’t call myself a Coach, I just helped people in the gym. I had no aspirations to be a Coach.” At 21, due to injury, Stevie realized that he couldn’t continue to compete as an athlete, and despite the injury, people kept asking him for help.
Ryan Tozciki, ranked top 10 in the world and a former World Title Challenger, has Coach Stevie on his side.
Stevie’s ability to guide boxers and develop their skill came naturally, but even when he helped a fighter win a national title, if you had asked him, then he would’ve replied, “I still wouldn’t have said I was a Coach.” Over time Stevie realized that Coaching is a gift and it’s his calling. “I am a far more successful Coach than I ever was as an athlete.”
Boxing In Ireland Vs. North America
In Ireland, boxing is a rich culture. “I was very fortunate to grow up at a time when boxing was in the Olympics, I was in the right place and right time to witness it. Overall, the history of boxing in Ireland is just more rich. There is a consistent standard and no matter the gym you go to, you will find a lot of talent and a high level of competition.”
When it comes to North America, Canada is different than the United States. Both countries offer great opportunities, but generally speaking, in “Canada, not a lot of people are trying to fight their way out,” said Stevie. “Hockey is to Canada what Boxing is to Ireland, there’s certainly a high standard for Boxing in Canada, but the consistency just isn’t there. The USA has a lot more hard-core people trying to fight their way out; tougher people coming from harder situations, and are willing to fight to get to the top.”
Regardless of where the fighter comes from or is going, a Boxer is a Boxer. It’s true of both men and women. When Stevie first started Coaching, it was with young kids, and when he was 17, he started training girls at the gym. “Male, female, it doesn’t matter. You don’t box like a guy or a girl, you just box.” A good boxer isn’t defined by their gender, nor where they come from.
Sara Haghighat-joo is an Olympic hopeful, Coach Stevie believes they can get her there.
When asked which gender he preferred to Coach, Stevie said that he can see the stereotype of women working harder, but he feels that he’s surrounded by boxers who all work equally as hard. Currently, Stevie Coaches his wife, Olympic hopeful Sara Haghighat-joo. “We were Coach/Athlete before we became Husband/Wife, so it’s easy. It might’ve been harder if it were reversed, but it wasn’t, and we have been able to keep those roles separate. I do find it more difficult when she goes away, and I’m not there, when I can’t be there because I have other fighters too, that’s when it’s hard.”
Coach Stevie’s Coaching Career Highlights
“I have no real highlights yet because I’m not where I want to be, I have a long road to get where I want, and I wouldn’t consider anything a highlight until I retire.”
“Getting my 1st National Title was a good step, and a 1st professional title is a decent step too.” The ultimate goal right now is to get Sara to the Olympic games, Stevie believes that that would be a highlight. He has worked with Sara from the beginning, seeing the potential in her and encouraging her to grow and compete. “Less than 1% of Coaches take a Boxer from scratch and get them to that level. If we can accomplish that, we’ve done things that most wouldn’t think possible.”
On May 21, 2023 Coach Stevie Bailey traveled to Niagra Falls, Ontario with Lucas “The Prince” Bahdi to compete for the IBF North American Lightweight title. With a hometown advantage, Bahdi faced Jesus Amparan and was set to continue his undefeated streak. With the support of Coach Stevie, Bahdi knocked out Amparan in round 9 and came out as Champion with the IBF North American Lightweight title.
Coach Stevie is proud to be in the corner of World-Ranked Professional Boxer Lucas “The Prince” Bahdi
From left to right: Samuel D., Steve Rolls, Lucas Bahdi, and Stevie Bailey celebrating the IBF North American Lightweight Title.
Stevie’s favourite thing about Coaching is the night of the fight, how everything is put together, and he gets to see all the hard work and training in action. On the other side, his least favourite part of Coaching is managing all the moving parts. He prefers structure and doesn’t like to rely on other people, but it’s imperative because no one can do it on their own.
Coach Stevie Is Where He Needs To Be
Becoming a part of the West End family has allowed Stevie to give the best of himself as a Coach. “It’s a top-notch gym, and the culture within the building is impressive.” The members they take on, the athletes they train, and the way they engage the community at all levels and ages allows everyone to make the most out of their training sessions. “It feels good going to a happy, welcoming, warm place like that. The support from them relieves the pressure from me. Everyone is steering the ship in the same direction.”
Boxing can be for everyone, whether for exercise or to compete as an amateur or as a professional. In the end, Coach Stevie reminds every athlete to “be honest and realistic with yourself. Be loyal to your word and not to your mood.”
Be a part of a program that Coach Stevie has helped develop, visit West End Athletic Club, and pick the class that’s right for you.