January 30, 2010: I wanted to say a few words about my dad today. But I've struggled for weeks trying to find the right words. Partly for emotional reasons . . . I didn't know if I was going to be able to hold up in front of everyone . . . But mainly because I felt this underlying insecurity that I wasn't going to do his tribute justice. Night after night, whatever I put to paper just didn't seem good enough. I just couldn't seem to encompass all the great things that he was. But eventually it came to me . . . My dad was so great because every time I think about him, I feel proud. I don't think there's a better way to describe how I feel other than that I'm proud to be my father's son.
My dad always loved boxing. I'm not sure why to be honest. But I remember him using words like "purity" and "equality" when he would talk about it. I mean, when you think about it . . . Aside from the brutality of it . . . Two men, same size, same weight, usually same height, squaring off with one another. Nobody to rely upon but yourself. In many ways, my dad was a boxer. Nothing was given to my dad. He had to earn everything he got. And he had to do it on his own. My dad fought with honour. He only fought when he was backed into a corner and always fought up a weight class or two.
I remember him telling me about when he first came to Canada. He was 11 years old . . . couldn't speak a word of English. Well, when he went to school, he would get picked on because of it. Particularly this one boy who was relentless. He told me he didn't want to do it but no matter what he did or said to the other boy, he would make fun of him . . . So he broke his nose with one shot to the face. He said no one ever made fun of him again. Then, later in life when he was getting bullied by the LCBO, he did it again. He fought the government and won. If you look back on his life, you'll see a man rise from the bottom to the top. He paved his own road. He was champion of the world for a little while there. He had it all.
There was just something about my dad . . . I don't really know how to explain it . . . But I guess it was in the little things. He just had a way about him. People just saw the champion in him and wanted to be in his corner. He was a modest champion. But, more importantly, classy in defeat. And therein lay my deepest pride. Over the last several years, I watched my dad deal with his illness, day in and day out, with the utmost courage and strength. He never complained to me . . . He never let me think he was mentally broken. He knew that he had to put on a good face for his family. I don't know how he did it but he did.
Throughout my life, my dad had taught me so many different lessons . . . He was prepping me. I couldn't even begin to describe how much he taught me about being a man and a father as he did in the last 5 years of his life.
I am proud to be my father's son . . . the son of a champion.