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Article by: Dameon Okposio (published in issue 26 of Below the Belt Boxing Magazine)

Photos provided by: BTB File Photos

2007 was my reemergence into competitive boxing after a 6-year hiatus. The last time I had fought competitively was the summer of 2001 and I thought it was out of my system. I was wrong.

Like most fighters I was fighting long before I entered boxing. I remember growing up in government housing. I was around eight or nine years old. I never got an allowance, and we didn’t have much as a family. I used to walk home for lunch because the elementary school I went to was virtually across the street from the housing complex I lived in. One day when I went home for lunch, my mother gave me a honey-dipped donut. I was so excited about this rare treat that I decided not to eat it right away but to walk to school to share it with my friends. I was walking back with the donut in my hand, held in a napkin, proud as I could be to have this delicious donut and before I was able to get out of the housing complex, the neighbourhood bully had punched me and taken my donut. 

That was the least of my worries at that time. I ran away from home just before I turned eleven to escape an abusive household and slept on the streets briefly until I was picked up by the Catholic Children’s Aid Society. I became a brooding angry kid moving from one foster home or group home to another. I ended up getting into fights with kids at the homes I lived in and at the numerous schools I briefly attended.

I decided to live on my own when I was 16 years old. It was tough going to high school and working to live so I ended up dropping out of school in grade 10. It was around that time that I got involved in boxing. It was somewhat accidental. I felt that nothing was going right at that time in my life and a friend had seen the dip in my attitude and activity level. He told me about a friend of his brother that boxed at a Scarborough boxing club. I decided to check it out and Scarborough Boys Boxing Academy was the first boxing gym I walked into. I remember being put into the ring right away to spar and getting pummeled by a guy named Tony, but I stayed and trained and got better. I punched all of the anger and frustration out of my system and was hooked on the sport ever since.

Boxing allowed me to control my anger and focus my aggression. It taught me to work hard and stay focused. It gave me the discipline and focus to carve out a career for myself.

I had fought a handful of times and in 2001 I decided that I was going to stop fighting and focus on promoting. In 2002, I added another boxing business to my entrepreneurial repertoire when I took over the Ontario Boxing Hall of Fame. I promoted amateur shows, promoted two boxing Trade Shows and continued strong publishing Below the Belt boxing magazine until disaster struck in October 2004. I attempted to promote a large professional show and essentially fell on my face. I lost a lot of money which put everything that I was doing and planning to do on hold. It was one of those situations where life imitated art…the art of boxing. I got knocked down and needed to pick myself up off the canvas and I did. It took two years to battle back financially, and I was extremely proud of that fact. In life you don’t want to be emotionally and mentally tested but when you are and you come through it, you have a lot of self respect.

Challenging yourself and accomplishing your goals makes you feel a certain kind of pride that you can’t get any other way. It’s your personal pat on the back. It was that kind of a challenge that made me want to get back into the ring. I’m one of those people that believe anything is possible, but at the age of thirty I didn’t want to become world champion, I just wanted to fight and test myself.

I looked around for an event that would get me excited enough to make the needed sacrifices. My last fight was at 206 lbs and I had ballooned up to 250 lbs. I needed a trainer and liposuction, uh, I mean a strict training regimen. I found the event I was looking for in an international tournament in Adelaide, Australia that started March 16, 2007.     

I started training 6 months out and had a trainer who was able to stay with my flexible schedule and that was willing to run with me to push me. It was difficult to fit training into my already packed schedule. Publishing a national boxing magazine, being President of the Ontario Boxing Hall of Fame and working as a one-to-one worker for the Catholic Children’s Aid Society left little time for much else. I was able to drop 15 pounds which got me prepared to fight. As many things that went right, it was about the same number of things that went wrong. I lost my coach just before Christmas 2006, forcing me to train myself for the last two months. I lost a little momentum, but my mind was strong. The movie “300” (about 300 Spartans against an army of Persians) had come out the week before I left and watching that movie helped reinforce the confidence I had in myself. It reminded me that you have to fight for what you believe in, and life can be difficult. It was a good lesson to be reminded of because when I arrived in Australia, the airline lost my luggage and the hotel I was supposed to be booked at didn’t have my reservation.

It took a few days to sort things out, but I was eventually able to register for the tournament and got an opportunity to train outdoors in the humidity of an Australian summer.  

My fight took place on Tuesday, March 20, 2007, in the Adelaide Convention Centre in front of 3000 screaming spectators. They screamed NEW SOUTH WALES, cheering on my opponent who was their fellow countryman. There were four competitors in the Super-Heavyweight division which created two semi-finals. I didn’t feel nervous until just before my fight, but I kept saying to myself, “this guy can’t hurt you, David and Goliath”. I walked out to loud jeers and boos, but I didn’t care, I came to fight, not to make friends. I guess it was fitting that I wore all black.

The bell rang to begin the first round and all of my jitters left with the faded chime of the bell. I was in my office now and it was time to do business, but my opponent was the one making moves. He started fast with combination power-punching. I felt his power, but I knew I had a granite chin. I had never been stopped in a fight. I weathered the storm, but he kept me on the defensive for much of the first round. I’m a notorious slow starter and I didn’t work on starting fast in my training. It showed.

The second round was a different story. I felt comfortable, I had weathered the storm, and I was back after six long years. It was time to go to work and I pressed the action. I used my stepping jab to close the distance and tried to work my way in on my taller opponent. I tried to go to the body, but my crafty opponent moved well on his feet. I pressed forward with a jab, missed with a right and caught my opponent with a left hook that stunned him. I felt rejuvenated and lunged at my prey with the intention of inflicting more damage but foolishly had my hands lowered and caught a counter right hand directly in the left eye. I was hurt but I didn’t want to let on. It cut my aggression down and the round ended.

I was ready for the third and final round. My conditioning and running were paying off, but I was still in tremendous pain and seeing double from the right hand I had absorbed in the second round. I saw my opponent’s belly heaving in and out and I knew he was tired. We exchanged periodically but anytime a punch landed near my left eye, it was painful, causing me to be more cautious than I wanted to be. The result was a decision loss and a bronze medal for my trouble. Although many people would have been disappointed with the loss, I was proud of myself and what I had accomplished. Boxing is a tough business and that’s why I respect everyone who gets into the ring. As for me, however, I didn’t need anyone to acknowledge what I did, I challenged myself and because I did, I can pat myself on the back. – 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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