Red Deer will be looking to cement their claim as the amateur boxing capital of Alberta this weekend as hosts of the Western Canadian Senior Elite Boxing Championships.
The only catch is they will be light on local talent at the event.
Still Red Deer and District Boxing coach Dennis Ejack points to the recent success of the likes of Arash Usmanee, Cam O’Connell and Brian Samuel and several up and comers like twins Lester and Lowie Cudillo.
“We look at Edmonton as being the centre for professional boxing, and we’ve worked hard to put ourselves on the map to be the centre of Olympic-style amateur boxing with the amount shows we’ve run and the success we’ve had with our youngest kids to oldest,” said Ejack.
Red Deer recently hosted the provincial championships at a sold out Harvest Centre — the site for this weekend’s fights — and are hoping for similarly big crowds.
The Western Canadian Championships will feature the elite level (18 and up) provincial champions from Alberta, Saskatchewan B.C. and Manitoba.
There will be a weigh-in and fight draw on Saturday at 10 a.m. with the first round of fights starting at 7 p.m. From there, the winners will fight on Sunday in the championship round, starting at noon. Tickets are available at the door only for $10 each.
Western Canadian champions go on to nationals and if they win there, they enter the Olympic stream.
It is a path made by the likes of Usmanee and O’Connell, though both became national champions, they never did quite make the Olympic team.
Usmanee turned pro in 2009 and has a 20-2-1 record, while O’Connell turned pro in 2012 and has a 6-0-1 record. Both came up, training under Rob Carswell and both will be fighting on a card at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton on June 13.
Samuel, meanwhile, won bronze at nationals last year but turned pro this year. He will be representing the club, however, at Westerns as a dignitary.
The Cudillo twins, 16, meanwhile, both defended their youth provincial titles, while Lowie was named top youth boxer with his domination of Dustin Amdo out of Edmonton in the 60-kilogram title fight.
Though they are too young to fight at Westerns this year, they represent the future of the club at the event.
“Most of our seniors now have moved on to the professional ranks and we have the Cudillos and others who within a year or two will be representing Red Deer, we hope and we know, at this type of tournament because of their particular quality of boxing,” said Ejack.
There will be 10 boxers from across Alberta fighting for the right to move on to nationals in Ontario, from Oct. 28-Nov. 1. The exact location has not yet been announced.
Westerns cycle between the four provinces and cities within each province have to bid on the right to host the championship. The next time Red Deer could potentially host Westerns is in 2018.
“It is the second biggest amateur tournament in Canada and we’re very pleased to get it,” said Ejack.
For more information, contact Ejack at 403-342-3846.