Indian knocks out obstacles to represent Canada
By FAISAL KUTTY
TORONTO, ONTARIO – Andrew S. Kooner is a twenty-year-old, representing Canada in the Sydney Olympics. He is a boxer. So what’s special about him?
He is the first Indo-Canadian boxer to represent Canada and behind the Anglicised name, hides the son of Punjabi immigrant parents.
Born Inderjit Kooner, the youngster qualified for the Canadian Olympic Boxing Team following Olympic Qualifiers in Tijuana, Mexico this spring. Kooner had to defeat Argentina’s Omar Narvaez, Roberto Benitez of the Dominican Republic and win a semi-final bout with Alex Espinoza of Venezuela. He was unable to go on to win the gold medal bout with Puerto Rico’s Carlos Valcarcel due to an injury sustained in the semi-final.
Weighing in at 51 kg, Kooner will represent Canada in the flyweight category — a great achievement for someone who did not like boxing in the early stages.
Kooner was more interested in field hockey, soccer and martial arts. “I didn’t like boxing in the beginning but after sometime I developed a passion for it. I wanted to go everyday,” says Kooner. His parents had registered him in karate and boxing classes to deal with his “aggressive” behavior upon arriving in Canada from England eight years ago.
It seems to have paid off. “Boxing is about thinking. I think I’ve matured in that respect,” says the member of the Windsor Amateur Boxing Club. Kooner has racked up an impressive record on his way to the Olympics. Since getting into boxing at age 13 in 1993, he has won the Canadian championship in the flyweight category eight times.
In addition, he won the silver medal at the European championship in Siofok (Hungary) in June 1996, the World Junior Championship in Havana in November 1998, and a gold medal in Liverpool in June 1998. He also won a bronze in the Commonwealth Games in Malaysia in 1998. His amateur record stands at a respectable 80 wins and 7 losses.
Kooner’s prowess has earned him a great reputation in the amateur boxing world. “(Andrew’s) mind is always working hard. He’s dangerous, because he thinks when he’s in the ring,” says Silvio Fex, a former Ontario boxing team coach.
Kooner has hopes of winning the gold for Canada in the Olympics. He was forced to put his studies on hold after completing high school to concentrate on his mission. With no time for employment the training regimen is costing Kooner and his parents heavily. He is still looking for sponsors to help with the cost of training, equipment and the special diet for the Games.
While Kooner will be the first Indo-Canadian boxer at the Olympics, the honor of being the first Pakistani goes to Asif Dar of Toronto, who represented Canada in a number of international events in the late ’80s and early ’90s before turning to professional boxing.
Note: First Published: Tuesday, September 12, 2000 Indian Express
Short URL: http://tinyurl.com/yfhkpjj