Becoming an Olympian Starts with a Dream

Feb 14th, 2014

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Category: A Boxer's POV

Becoming an Olympian Starts with a Dream

As we watch the Sochi 2014 Olympics, I can’t help but remember my dream as a child to one day compete in an Olympic Games.  I really had no clue how I would get there, but I can clearly remember back in 1984 watching my first Olympic Games on TV.  A couple months before those games were to begin, my parents took my brother and I on a family vacation to Lake Placid, Lake Placid of course was the site of the 1980 Winter Olympics, but it was also the training grounds for many teams in preparation for the 84′ games.

To be honest, I don’t remember much about that trip, but the one thing that I do remember is meeting and seeing the 1984 US Olympic Boxing Team as they were in training camp preparing for their eventual domination and recognition as the greatest Olympic Boxing Team of all time.  Long before there was a Dream Team in basketball, there was this Dream Team in boxing that won 9 Golds, 1 Silver, and 1 Bronze medal in 12 weight classes.  As a child, I didn’t know who they were, but as we were walking about in this indoor mall, my Dad recognized them immediately as ABC Wide World of Sports would televise the US Amateur Championships back in the day.  As a 10 year old, I had already been boxing for over 4 years and I clearly remember seeing their jackets with the lettering ‘USA’ written on their backs.

This team was no ordinary team, some of the great fighters included, Meldrick Taylor, Steve McCory,Pernell Whitaker, Frank Tate, Mark Breland, Virgil Hill, Evander Holyfield,  and Tyrell Biggs.  At the time, I bought my first autograph book and my Dad encouraged me to go over there and get their autographs.  I clearly remember Mark Breland, who was deemed one of the greatest amateur boxers ever and how nice he was signing my book, then Pernell Whitaker, Evander Holyfield, I had autographs of all of these great Olympians that went on to become Professional World Champions and have phenomenal careers.

If there was one thing that I wish we had on hand at the time, it would have been a camera, but the 1980′s weren’t the 2000′s, where having a cell phone camera is as common as putting on a pair of shoes.  Even more so, I wish I had video of those greats, but instead all I had were autographs, which don’t get me wrong, those autographs were amazing, but sadly one day my Dad leant that autograph book to a coworker, who never ended up giving it back and those autographs went missing forever.  So, despite not having that book, I do have the memory firmly implanted in my mind.

I was just 10 years old at the time and had never watched an Olympic Games as most of the western world had boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics, but when the games began a few months later, I was glued to my TV.  I not only watched the boxing, but in fact watched every Olympic sport, loving each and every one of them.  Later on in the year, a group of Ryerson University students here in Toronto would ask my parents if they could do a short documentary on me about my life and aspirations in the sport of boxing.  Looking back, this video was epic, because, I not only said that one day I wanted to go to the Olympics, but I also said that I’d like to retire from the sport of the boxing when i was young.  If you watch this video, it’s amazing how my dream as a child for the most part came true.

As an 18 year old, I would eventually get on to the National B team, and for the next four years, I’d place second four years in a row at the Nationals until I finally won my first Canadian Amateur Title.  Once, I became champion, nobody would beat me here in Canada and from 96′-00′, I’d win a Silver medal at the Francophone Games, a Gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, a Silver Medal at the Pan Am Games and eventually a 5th place finish at the 2000 Olympic Games, in addition to all the other smaller tournaments that i won medals at over the years.  If I could have done things different at those Olympics, I definitely would have, so many things went wrong leading up to those games for me and during, but that story, I’ll have to tell another day.

I knew at that point that I wanted to retire from competing in the sport that had given me so much, allowing me to travel to over 20 countries, but a year later, I had one last fight to see if there was any fire left, but truthfully it was gone the day I lost in the Olympics, I never trained with the passion I once had, but forever, I can call myself an Olympian, something that I’m very proud to do!

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