Cover Story

BayShore Groups a Big Hit with Muay Thai Niagara

St. Catharines firm helps disadvantaged athletes realize dream of competing in Mexico.

BY SCOTT LESLIE

Every year, Roger Lumyoung, the owner of Muay Thai Niagara, trains hundreds of recreational and professional fighters at his popular kickboxing club in St. Catharines.
But this summer, the avid kickboxing coach got some incredible news. Five of his youngest athletes had earned places on Team Canada and were invited to compete in the 2016 WAKO Pan-American Kickboxing Championships in Cancun, Mexico this coming October―more than any other kickboxing club in Ontario.
“I was really thrilled for the kids,” Roger said of the athletes who had to attend a series of six-hour training camps in Burlington to make the cut. “I know how committed they`ve been to their training and working all this time to make the team. I couldn`t be happier and more proud.”
There was a big catch, however. The five athletes―aged 13 to 21-years-old―all came from underprivileged backgrounds and didn`t have the resources to attend.
That`s where BayShore Groups came in.
Based in St. Catharines, BayShore Groups is a multi-disciplined investment company that`s currently developing a new multi-million dollar mixed-use project in the Garden City. Since moving to Niagara in 2014, however, BayShore Groups has also become a strong community partner, donating their time and resources to several local charities and youth organizations.
According to Chiara J-Megna, the vice-president of BayShore Groups, she was no stranger to Muay Thai Niagara. Chiara`s been busy training at the kickboxing club with Roger, doing everything from weight training to sparring sessions.
“We`ve developed a very close relationship,” Chiara says of Roger. “We do a lot of team building with him now. He`s really become part of our team.”
In recent weeks, Roger came to her office with the five athletes and their parents to make a special presentation to BayShore officials. Here, the kids had the chance to talk about their struggles growing up and their dream of competing for Team Canada. Afterwards, Chiara and her husband Rob, the president of BayShore Groups, went down to Muay Thai Niagara to see the kids in action. That was the real clincher for them.
“We agreed to sponsor them for two reasons,” Chiara explains. “We have a lot of admiration for Roger and what he`s trying to do at Muay Thai Niagara―but it also fits nicely with our company belief in youth programs, helping those who need it most in our community.”
The five Muay Thai Niagara athletes representing Canada are Teshay Gouthro, Tai Sengsouriya, Nathan Vanderform, William Siemens and Chris Hockey and they`ll be taking part in Team Canada`s junior, intermediate and senior kickboxing squads. All of them have become passionate members of Muay Thai Niagara over the past few years, and that commitment to their kickboxing training has helped them overcome several troubling issues including delinquency and depression.
“It was very emotional,” Chiara says when she finally told the fighters about the sponsorship. “The kids were all very grateful and their parents started crying.”
As part of their funding, BayShore Groups will be covering all expenses such as flights, entry fees, transportation, uniforms, food and accommodation. In order to show their support, the administration department at BayShore Groups including Amy Genest, Ani Kechichian, Sinead Megna, Melanie Prevost, Dana Reed and Chiara will also be going down to Mexico to cheer them on personally.
Muay Thai Niagara, however, is just one of many youth agencies BayShore Groups is planning to donate to. BayShore plans on being the major sponsor of Ride For Kids Sake―a program run by Big Brothers Big Sisters―as well as the St. Catharines Amateur Boxing Club―a non-profit organization dedicated to providing professional classes and instruction to boxers of all ages.
And the commitment to youth doesn`t end there.
“We love helping people and families with these kind of situations,” Chiara says, “but we also want to help children and youth out in other areas too―not just boxing. This is just the beginning for us.” BL