courtesy of Andrew and Olga Heron
Andrew Heron thanks boxing for saving his life.
The former high school dropout says he was hurting people instead of hitting the books until he discovered his love for the sport. “It turned my life around. It let me stay out of jail and kept me from being an outlaw. Instead of beating up people, I now help people,” says Heron.
Heron and his wife, Olga, own HUF Executive Fitness, a boxing gym that opened 12 years ago that also runs workouts for children and teenagers.
This Friday, HUF and Golden Gloves Canada Inc., founded by David Biggar and Roger Ness are teaming up with Variety — The Children’s Charity to hold their annual boxing event to help raise money to keep children off the streets.
“There are a lot of kids without parents and we’re giving them a place to go after school,” says Biggar.
One of those kids was Jhezani Dixon, a 16-year-old who weighed 285 pounds. “He got involved in the summer camps [at HUF] and went down to 165 pounds. He is so confident now and doing well in school,” says Olga.
Not only does the sport increase muscular strength, improve reflexes and the cardiovascular system but it boosts confidence and self-esteem.
“It’s remarkable how much confidence kids get,” says Biggar. “We are giving them another outlet so they don’t join gangs.”
The gym, located in Mississauga, lives by the philosophy of clean living; even swearing is not tolerated. “Kids are taught how to box and be responsible,” says Marvin Elkind, former chauffeur to former boxing champ George Chuvalo. “[Chuvalo] came here twice last summer pro bono and talked to kids about the bad effects of drugs.”
The glory days of Chuvalo are gone, but the sport is making a comeback and young adults are training to become the next fighters at the Olympics.
“We have terrific upcoming fighters,” says Ness.
Although the event is showcasing some of the province’s top amateur boxers, Heron says it’s not just about great boxing. “Fighters are doing it for a good deed to help other people. They are putting their blood and sweat on the line for a noble cause. At the end, they fight for a purpose.”
Heron says he doesn’t box anymore but he coaches and is an instructor. “I work out with a 62-year-old and I’m usually left on my hands and knees looking up at him,” he laughs.
For more information on HUF and the annual charity boxing event visit www.hufboxing.com.