Through good times and bad, wins and losses, punches and scrapes, victories and championships, Miranda Jollymore and Ibrahim Kamal promise to always be in each other’s corner.
Such are the vows the couple will be taking in their upcoming wedding, to take place inside a boxing ring.
The couple, well-known in the world of Canadian boxing, are set to marry Sunday at the same place they met four years ago: Cabbagetown Boxing Club.
Jollymore recalls how Kamal stuck by her after a spinal chord injury in 2008 that brought an end to her competitive boxing aspirations. At the time, Kamal was still representing Canada in the amateur league.
“He was travelling a lot and I was sad that I was injured,” she says. “But I remember when I needed surgery, he dropped everything and drove back from Montreal to see me. That’s when I realized, ‘Wow, this guy really loves you’.”
At 26, Kamal is an eight-time Canadian National Boxing Champion with a 6-0 record since turning pro. Jollymore, 33, is a boxing instructor and former competitive boxer who started up a charity called MJKO to help educate youth in Toronto’s at-risk areas.
Jollymore comforted and encouraged Kamal, he says, especially after he retired from the amateurs and turned pro in 2011.
“That was a difficult time for me because I was overwhelmed with the business side of pro boxing and felt like people were trying to use me,” the East York-born boxer says. “But she was always there, reassuring me and telling me that I have all the time in the world to think things through.”
Both took an interest in boxing after enduring abuse in their lives, they say.
Kamal learned to fight in the early ’90s when he and his family were living abroad in Libya. A tiny-framed kid, Kamal was often bullied and beaten by other children at school, he says.
“It started with me learning to defend myself, and also my brother and sister,” he says. “I’m the oldest so I felt that I needed to take care of them, I needed to know how to fight back.”
For his fiancée, however, boxing came later in life.
Jollymore was always into sports, she says, but hadn’t considered boxing until years after being raped when she was 15.
“I did a lot of sports but no type of self-defence, so I decided to learn how to box,” she says. “It was boxing that gave me the courage to tell anybody what had happened to me.
“It taught me how to hold my head high and defend myself.”
The pair say they’re excited to see friends and loved ones gather together this Sunday for their boxing-themed wedding ceremony. Like in an actual boxing match, Kamal and Jollymore plan to enter the ring from opposite corners, accompanied by family.
A city hall official, acting in the manner of ring announcer Michael Buffer, is set to preside over the ceremony.