Skip to content

Fired coach punches back at shuttered North Burnaby Boxing Club

Manny Sorbal was a founding member and head coach of the North Burnaby Boxing Club until the board of directors fired him in 2020. Changes to the club's bylaws ended his membership as well, but the province's Civil Resolution Tribunal has ruled those changes were invalid.
North Burnaby Boxing Club coach Manny Sobral (left) celebrates a victory with boxer Charly Dawson, centre, and Dave Robinson, after winning the B.C. lightweight belt in 2017.

A founding member and former longtime coach of the North Burnaby Boxing Club has landed a blow against the organization’s board of directors after it fired him as head coach and then tried to get him removed as a member through changes to its bylaws, according to a ruling by the province’s Civil Resolution Tribunal this week.

Manny Sobral, a Vancouver teacher, Olympian and former world International Boxing Organization welterweight champion, helped found the North Burnaby Boxing Club society in December 2003 and was one of its first directors, the ruling says.

The club first set up in the old Burnaby Heights School at the corner of Willingdon Avenue and Albert Street before that building was torn down in 2010.

It later moved to the Revs Bowling building near the Holdom SkyTrain station.

The gym closed when COVID-19 hit in March 2020 and hasn’t re-opened.

Sobral was the club’s head coach until the board of directors fired him on Feb. 23, 2020.

Along with removing him as head coach, the board banned him from “being a coach, volunteer, or member of NBBC, visiting its facility, or contacting any board members, club members, volunteers, or coaches,” according to the ruling.

“The board said this was due to Mr. Sobral’s ‘aggressive behaviour, series of events, lack of respect of the new board and the facility,’” states the ruling.

The board’s termination letter did not explain the “series of events” in detail but referred elsewhere in its tribunal submissions to conflict between Sobral and others, according to the ruling.

The board then passed a special resolution in September 2020 to change the society’s bylaws so that a person who ceased to be a director of the club automatically ceased to be a member as well.

(Sobral had resigned from the board November 2019 over a disagreement about the management of the club.)

But Sobral argued the bylaw change was invalid because the board had failed to provide any notice of the general meeting to vote on the special resolution.

The board told the tribunal it had changed the bylaws following the advice of its lawyer, but tribunal member David Jiang said that didn’t mean they hadn’t violated the Societies Act in the process.

Jiang ultimately ruled the board’s bylaw change was invalid because the board hadn’t provided proper notice of the general meeting where the special resolution was passed and hadn’t held the meeting at a time and place that accorded with the Societies Act.

Jiang ordered the board to stop applying the bylaw changes immediately and to hold an annual general meeting within 60 days of his decision.

The board was also ordered to pay Sobral $225 in tribunal fees.

Sobral had also asked for orders declaring that the boxing club’s members included founding members, like him, and other people who had been members before the bylaw changes were adopted, but Jiang said those orders would be outside of the tribunal’s jurisdiction.

The board said the boxing club hasn’t been in operation since February 2020 and shouldn’t have to hold an AGM, but Jiang noted society documents show it had held an AGM as late as 2021.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
Email [email protected]