Champion professional boxer returns to Red Deer roots

Boxing event set to take place in City in May

CHAMP-- Arash Usmanee

CHAMP-- Arash Usmanee

This year’s Rumble in Red Deer, May 14 at the Capri Centre & Convention Centre, will see professional boxers competing for the first time and fewer amateur fights, says Steve Boissoin, event and promotions director with the Red Deer Boxing Club. The highlight fight will feature Arash Usmanee, who started his boxing career in Red Deer and is seen as a rising star in professional boxing circles.

Usmanee won the Super Featherweight title with the North American Boxing Association on Dec. 3, 2010 against Mexican boxer Pedro Navarette. He is the possessor of an undefeated professional record and is known for his attacking, boxer-puncher style.

“This is a homecoming for Arash,” says Boissoin. “He’s a fabulous fighter, he’s knocking out his opponents left, right and centre. He’s knocked out half of his opponents. Here’s a kid who emigrated here from Afghanistan and got his start right here in Red Deer and was a five time (amateur) National Champion out of the Red Deer Boxing Club. He’s overjoyed to come back to Red Deer.”

Usmanee, who now makes his home in Montreal, says, “I still think of Red Deer as home. Most of my history is there, most of my boxing career is there and my family is still there. Growing up in Red Deer can be difficult, but I was blessed to have a great family and the boxing.”

His family arrived from Afghanistan in 1994 when he was 12, landing in Calgary with his mother, two sisters and two brothers (his father was killed in Afghanistan), and soon moving to Red Deer. He started boxing at the Red Deer Boxing Club in early 1998 and gives the club a lot of praise as the reason behind his success.

“I did very well at the beginning without taking it too seriously, and once I took it seriously it got better. Boxing saved me in a way (keeping him on the straight and narrow and out of trouble), saved my life probably. I wouldn’t be as good a boxer if it wasn’t for the (Red Deer) club,” he says. “It is one of the best recreational gyms in Canada and it’s a perfect place to start a boxing career. It’s a place where you can find out if you’ve got it (the ability to become a successful boxer).”

Now the undefeated Super Featherweight champ, he is proud of his 10 – 0 record, which includes five knockouts, “Although I wish I had more knockouts. You don’t know how excited I am about coming back to fight in Red Deer. I’ve got three other fights scheduled this year and I should be thinking about them but I’m looking so forward to Red Deer.

“I’ve even got my entrance song picked out already, it’s soft and sentimental (usually he picks something hard and driving) and it’ll be a surprise. No matter where I go in my life and my career, Red Deer will still be home. My career is amazing and I’d prefer to be closer to home, but I’m working hard here (in Montreal) and have a great team behind me.”

Another featured boxer for this year’s Rumble in Red Deer, described as the most well attended boxing event in Alberta (2,000 people last year), is Rory Coveney. He’s a Light-Welterweight with a 4 – 0 record and two knockouts, and like Usmanee, is known for his aggressive, boxer-puncher style, always going for a knockout.

This is the third year for the Rumble in Red Deer and, according to Boissoin, the reduced number of amateur fights will be followed by four professional bouts, including heavyweights, and the main event featuring favourite son Usmanee. The club is looking for sponsors for the event. Sponsorships are tax-deductible and guarantee a dinner table with a clear view of the ring.

The non-profit Red Deer Boxing Club has been teaching Olympic style boxing for over 20 years. Members of the club compete up to the Olympic level and training stresses physical fitness and building discipline and character. Its goal is to not only develop an athlete but to help youth develop character and discipline and become a contributing member of society.