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Article by: Dameon Okposio (originally published in issue 38 of Below the Belt Boxing Magazine)
Photo by: Mark Ruddick

Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk often says, “There are two ways to build the biggest building in town. Tear everyone else’s building down or just build the biggest building.” I’m on a journey to just build the biggest building in town. I’m looking to build a boxing empire and my passion for that goal drives me every day. The proudest thing for me is having people that have worked with me for over a decade and made money with me.

I grew up in government housing and ran away from home at the age of ten. I grew up in Catholic Children’s Aid and I credit the foster care system for saving my life even though all of my experiences in care weren’t positive. I’m asked often if there was someone that made a big difference in the decisions I made and the truth is I met a lot of good and bad people along my life’s journey. If there were pivotal moments that I believed determined my trajectory in life, I could point to three major factors. 1, I read a book in my teens called, “Think and Grow Rich, A black choice”, written by Dennis Kimbro. I thought the book was going to be about money but it was about taking accountability for yourself. I took the words to heart and read the book so many times that it literally fell apart. 2, In my teens, I purchased the Tony Robbins Personal Power Program. At that time, it was the most expensive thing I had purchased. I had watched his infomercial late at night so many times and I finally thought, if it can do what it says, it’s worth the gamble. It was one of the best investments I made. 3, Competing in boxing. There are a lot of selfish and mean people in the sport of boxing but the sport itself can teach you how to overcome adversity and how to push past your perceived limits.

Sometimes we’re not fortunate to find mentors when we need them, but we can be our own mentors by investing in ourselves. I lived on my own at the age of 16 and learned budgeting through trial and error. I dropped out of school in grade ten because I had a difficult time learning in a traditional setting. When I didn’t have help externally, I looked inward. Having to pay rent and bills at 16 was difficult and it was hard to get full time work. Out of necessity I would work two or three part time jobs to make what I needed. I thought about post-secondary school but I didn’t have the grades or money. Instead, if I wanted to learn about something, I studied it at the local library for free. When boxing coaches wouldn’t train me at the boxing club, I would tape any show I could find on Mike Tyson and play it back dozens of times and train myself in technique and endurance. All of these obstacles and lessons played a big part in my business success.

You need a team and support to succeed in any endeavour, but you can be your own hero until the help arrives. I never set out to start or manage the amount of businesses that I run today but when I see a need, I try to get the resources necessary. If those resources don’t exist or they aren’t accessible, I will create them. An example of that would be my annual Boxing Trade Show which I have held since 2003. It has been a huge task to get boxing businesses to consistently commit to being part of the Boxing Trade Show. Fans would often ask if there would be boxing equipment or supplements for sale. I couldn’t tell people who would be taking part until I had commitments from the vendors but sometimes businesses wouldn’t commit until the week of the event. It makes it difficult to advertise what will be at the event and that affects attendance and sales for vendors. To make the event a better experience for the consumer, I’ve started a boxing equipment company, DO Boxing Sales, along with a few other businesses to provide services that I often get asked about. Instead of occupying one booth, I’ll be occupying 12 booths at the Boxing Trade Show and advertising what will be in attendance several months out.

It takes a lot of work and sacrifice but if you want to build something in life and you aren’t getting the support to make it happen, be your own hero. Invest in yourself and take advantage of all of the tools that are at your disposal. As you build, your support will as well. – DO

Dameon Okposio
Dameon Okposio
Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, I spent my childhood in Foster Care under the Catholic Children’s Aid Society after running away from home at age ten. Using music and art as outlets, I co-founded a hip-hop group called E.P. (the Effervescent Play Posse) during my teens. Our performances, including one at Exhibition Place in Toronto, garnered attention, leading to a record contract offer. By age sixteen, I was living independently and working while exploring entrepreneurship. In my late teens, I began investing with a financial advisor, setting the stage for my financial future.
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