Amateur Boxing in Manitoba
Amateur boxing in Manitoba has always been an active sport going back to the days of the bouts in the OBU hall in the aftermath of World War I. There were many excellent boxers in Manitoba with many long-forgotten provincial and Canadian champions. A notable heavyweight in the late 20s and early 30’s was Steve Trojack. Steve has always been actively involved in the sport, first as Canadian Heavyweight Champion, then in later years as a much in demand referee and a member in good standing of the amateur boxing community.
With the return of many veterans from the Second World War and an influx of Europeans where good amateur boxing was part of their culture, boxing enjoyed a boom in the late 40’s and early 50’s. Prominent at the time were Gordie Mackie and the Madison Club in St. Boniface. Bob Siegel and Mickey Shane had the Crescent Boxing Club and Bill Runner was head man at the 400 Club. Steve Trojack ran a boxing club at St. Paul’s College and Len Sanlin kept the sport alive in Brandon. Some boxers of that era who gained national recognition were Jim (Baby) Saunders who fought in the 1952 Olympics and Ed Zastre, winner of the Jack Dempsey White Hope Heavyweight Tournament and a powerful puncher. Billy Pinkus, Eddie Haddad, Pete Kawulia, Paul Chyzy, Peter Piper, Mike Pestrak, Charley Pyle, Flailing Frankie White, Len Johnson and Ray Bohemier are a few more names that come to mind. Prior to the 1960’s, all amateur sport in Canada was under the control or the “Athletic Union of Canada”.
In 1967, with the Pan Am Games being held in Winnipeg, the boxing venue was sold out and Manitoban’s were once more introduced to international quality amateur boxing.
Shortly after the Games, various sports such as Track and Field and Hockey began breaking away from the Athletic Union of Canada and forming their own sports associations. The Canadian Amateur Boxing Association (CABA) was formed in 1968 in Montreal. The Manitoba Amateur Boxing Association (MABA) also formed in 1968 with Dr. William Parker, Chief Pathologist of the Province of Manitoba as the first President.
At the Montreal meetings, Manitoba representatives showed a keen interest in revising the Amateur Boxing rules, and were asked to rewrite Amateur Boxing Rules for Canada. MABA put together a rules committee and worked diligently on them so they became workable with International Boxing Rules. Members of the rules committee included Alan Wall, Herb Embuldeniya, Mike Pestrak, Ray Martin, Al and Freda Tummon, Brian Harris and Len Johnson.
The completed report was presented to the Canadian Amateur Boxing Association at the annual meeting in Montreal. CABA accepted the Rules unanimously and had its first Rule Book, a proud accomplishment of the Manitoba Association.
In the late 60’s and early 70’s, Manitoba continued to be a powerhouse in the sport with many Canadian champions, including Marv Arnesen, Steve Ross, Dennis Bercier, Wayne Caplette, Bill Turner and a host of many other excellent boxers in many weight classes.
In 1999 Winnipeg again played host to the Pan-American games and the boxing venue was once again sold out. The event was very successful and this could be contributed to the Manitoba Boxing Association for running a top quality international event.
Some of the most prominent boxers in the past few years include Harry Black, Ken Johnson, Bobby Olson and Shawn Krasnesky. In the 80’s, 90’s and into 2000 great boxers from Manitoba have included Chris Scott, Ryan Savage, Gary Head, Mike Fenner, Chad Brisson, Megan Megan, Damien Roach, Stormy Roach, Jeremy Laquette, Arthur Cook, Roberto Romero and Amy Heska who were all current or former national champions.
Manitoba has also been blessed with many excellent officials, with no less than four at the highest international amateur level possible and several more national officials.
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