Boxing champ charged in shooting drifted after victory: former coaches
Markel Jason Downey once had dreams of boxing glory after winning a gold medal at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax, but people in the sport say he began drifting shortly after his victory.
Downey, also known as ‘Baby Jay,’ was only 15 – the youngest athlete on Team Nova Scotia - when he won gold in the 49 to 52 kilogram category at the Canada Winter Games.
Now the 18-year-old is facing a slew of charges, including three counts of attempted murder, in connection with a violent home invasion and shooting in Cole Harbour, N.S.
“He was a real nice kid, a real nice kid,” says Mickey MacDonald, who owns Palookas Gym in Bedford. “He was a dedicated boxer.”
“For the three years he was getting ready for the Canada Games, and even in a short time afterwards, Jason was very charismatic person, very polite, one of the hardest working guys I had on the team,” says Wayne Gordon, who coached Downey and the other Nova Scotia boxers during the Canada Winter Games.
“He was a team leader among the other guys, working as a cheerleader for them and egging them on in training camps, he was very disciplined. Boxing is a very disciplined sport to be able to compete at the level he was at.”
MacDonald says Downey is from a good family that provides strong support to their sons.
“I know his parents were great parents. They loved their sons,” he says. “They went out of their way to bring him to the gym. It was unbelievable.”
But Downey began to drift away from the sport after his gold medal victory in 2011. After the Games, he took part in three more fights and then called it quits.
His last fight was in Puerto Rico last year. He didn’t win.
“I think that that may have been because he had taken so much time off, being at the level that he was at and only competing every little while affected his confidence and his ability,” says Gordon.
He and MacDonald share a view on how an athlete like Downey might stray from his or her goals, even those who have achieved some success and are headed down a golden path.
“One of the biggest things you have to do to achieve your goals is to surround yourself with people that are going to help you achieve those goals,” says Gordon.
“Getting people with the same values as you and as well as good role models,” says MacDonald. “Good role models are so important.”
Downey is facing a total of 19 charges in connection with the incident in Cole Harbour that sent three teens to hospital.
He was back in court Thursday morning to set dates for a bail hearing. He remains in custody.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Rick Grant