Red Deer’s William O’Kefee squares off with Vyacheslav Nesterenko Saturday afternoon in the Alberta Golden Gloves at the Western Park Stockman’s Pavilion. O’Kefee, 18, won the fight with a unanimous decision. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Alberta Golden Gloves shows off top boxing talent in Western Canada

The event also featured boxers that will compete at 2019 Canada Winter Games

Boxers from all over Western Canada flocked to Red Deer this weekend for a chance to showcase their talent in the Alberta Golden Gloves at the Westerner Park Stockmens Pavilion.

More than 130 fighters from B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan entered the ring over the course of two days, with about a dozen ducking back out with a coveted Golden Gloves medal around their neck.

In front of his friends and family, Red Deer’s William O’Keefe was crowned a champion in the Youth 75 kilogram weight class, after a unanimous decision over Vyacheslav Nesterenko Saturday afternoon.

“It was everything,” O’Keefe said.

“All the training and I’m just thankful for my coaches and everything. Glad that I could go in there and fight. I don’t really feel anything after I win. I won, onto the next one.”

O’Keefe, 18, who trains out of the Red Deer Boxing Club said although the fight didn’t go exactly as planned, he was thrilled to win and knows how he can improve the next time out.

“I felt it went well. He had 13 pounds on me. I think I could have landed more punches and my jab. But I think I played it pretty well,” he said.

The teenager also got a taste of what it might be like next February if he was able to earn a spot on Team Alberta at the 2019 Canada Winter Games on his home turf. He had one of the biggest cheering sections over the weekend during his win Saturday.

“I’m just thankful because not a lot of boxers can have families watch them, all they have is their coaches,” he said.

“It would mean a lot (to make the Games), but my goal is to become the best. So if I get there, I want to win. I’ll train my butt off like I did for this. If I get there it would be great.”

Red Deer’s Roman Rzepowski, 31, also earned a coveted Golden Gloves title Saturday night with the hometown crowd on his side. The long-time boxing coach in Red Deer beat Neil Clement by referee’s decision in the first round of the Senior 75kg division.

Another Golden Gloves champion who was crowned on the weekend, 17-year-old Kyle Oliver of Lethbridge said it would be a dream come true if he was back in Red Der next winter.

“I want to go to the Canada Winter Games and win gold, then hopefully win nationals then go do some international tournaments,” said Oliver, who was also a 2017 Junior Canadian Boxing Champion in the 63kg weight class.

“If you do something like winning the Golden Gloves and you know there’s another step and you can just take it further. Be better and it just makes you a better person and it feels good to win and be the top dog.”

Oliver won a unanimous decision on the weekend in the Youth 60kg class, topping Fausto Santaro of Edmonton.

“I tried staying back and using my jabs and long punches. I think it worked okay, I won the fight but it wasn’t my best work,” added Oliver, who trains out of the Lethbridge Boxing Club under legendary boxer Rick Duff.

“Feels pretty good. The goal is to get to the Canada Winter Games and get on the team. This is just the first step and it feels great.”

The Golden Gloves served as a test event for the 2019 Canada Winter Games that will take place in Red Deer next Winter.

Boxing lead for the Games Colin Acheson said even with some hiccups, he was happy to see the level of talent and the huge number of fighters that made the trip.

“I was impressed with the talent. We had so many boxers appear for weigh-ins (Saturday) that we couldn’t get a lot of the little guys on. They are the future of the sport. But we had so many bouts scheduled, we couldn’t get the little guys on,” Acheson said.

“It’s a great show, it’s gratifying and shows that boxing is alive and well in this province. Nowhere to go but up.”

Boxing action continues Saturday night at 7 p.m. and again Sunday at 12 p.m.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Kyle Oliver, 17, of Lethbridge lands a blow on Fausto Santaro in the Alberta Golden Gloves on Saturday in Red Deer. Oliver won the fight with a unanimous decision. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Red Deer’s Roman Rzepowski, 31 (right) dodges a punch from Neil Clement in the first round of an Alberta Golden Gloves match on Saturday night. Rzepowski won the bout in the first round by referee’s decision. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Just Posted

Scares and chills await at haunted house in Red Deer

Zed Haunted House helps raise money for Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer District

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

Queens raised $12,035 for the Central Alberta Cancer Centre.

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

Turkey to reveal details of probe into Khashoggi’s killing

ISTANBUL — In a sign of growing pressure on Saudi Arabia, Turkey… Continue reading

Utah truck driver is jailed without bond after crash kills 6

HEBER, Utah — A man suspected of driving under the influence remained… Continue reading

A ragged, growing army of migrants resumes march toward US

TAPACHULA, Mexico — A ragged army of Honduran migrants streamed through southern… Continue reading

Postal workers to begin strikes in 4 Canadian cities Monday if deal not reached

OTTAWA — The union representing 50,000 Canada Post employees says it will… Continue reading

Migrant caravan swells to 5,000, resumes advance toward US

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico — Despite Mexican efforts to stop them at the… Continue reading

“I don’t feel real”: Mental stress mounting after Michael

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Amy Cross has a hard time explaining the… Continue reading

Toronto residents set to vote Monday on the next four years of civic leaders

Toronto’s municipal election campaign, marked by unprecedented provincial interference, ends Monday when… Continue reading

Former PQ minister Lise Payette remembered as role model for female politicians

MONTREAL — Members from across Quebec’s political spectrum gathered at a downtown… Continue reading

Most Read