The physical and mental demands that every boxer faces makes them some of the most rugged athletes of any sport, but rising through the gruelling ranks takes more than just succeeding in a calculated war of punches.
Calgary-based Dekada Fight Night exists for this very reason — to springboard local boxers and fighters and further their career transition from amateur to pro.
“There’s young people in this city with sporting aspirations that are going worldwide and we’re proving it with these kinds of performances,” says Michael ‘Mr. Boxing YYC’ Short, promoter and co-founder of Dekada.
A springboard for amateurs to turn pro
Dekada was founded by Short and Dennis Herrmann in 2013, with the brands first boxing fights taking place in 2015.
Their most recent event, Dekada Contender, took place on Nov. 3 at the Deerfoot Inn & Casino. The smaller venue gave the fight night an intimate atmosphere, as raucous fan were inches from the ring and packed from wall-to-wall, something the brand is known for.
“It was a very successful show,” says Short. “We had four pro fights and five kickboxing matches scheduled. We lost one pro fight and all kickboxing fights, so we had to shuffle the deck and put together four amazing local boxing matches and still kept a great pro show.”
Despite having to reshuffle the event, Short described it as a success and sees Dekada climbing higher in the sporting community.
“Expectations are we put on a good show at a high quality," says Short. "No one wants to see two cab drivers fighting each other, we want to see good quality boxing. We transcended all the silly Facebook pages for boxing and vloggers and things like that. We got into the mainstream media with Sportsnet Fan 960, Calgary Sun … it's really becoming a brand."
“We see the other brands in the city and Dekada is right behind them,” says Short.
A night of sport and spectacle
Dekada is also known for its pre-fight hype, where video packages on social media build up the card's respective fighters. After each bout, fans are privy to post-fight entertainment where the boxers snag the microphone and have an opportunity to speak to those in attendance.
“We put on entertainment beyond boxing,” says Short. “You don't just watch boxing. You watch a whole show. There's showmanship.”
One of those who embraced the spectacle of the event was Jordan Mcnaughton, a fighter out of Calgary.
After he won his amateur fight, the ring announcer stated that Mcnaughton had something to say. With all eyes on the young fighter, he took a chance and personally called out Short.
Short made his way down the aisle with a confused, yet pleased, look on his face. When Short got in the ring, Mcnaughton stated he wanted to turn pro for the next Dekada card.
“This is exactly why (Dekada) gives young gentlemen and ladies the opportunity to develop right here in Calgary through their whole career, amateur to professional,” said Short, smiling ear-to-ear in the middle of the ring.
“Let's do this,” he concluded.
Highlights of the night
Calgary's Gwyn Lewis, who was undefeated heading into the event, suffered his first professional boxing defeat at the hands of Gerson Escobar, a fighter from Mexico City.
“Every fight I do comes from the bottom of my heart and I try to give a show the best as possible. Thank you Calgary,' said Escobar after his shocking victory.
The co-main event garnered the loudest support of the night, as Calgarian Kandi 'Krusher' Wyatt knocked out her opponent, Zsofia Bedo, in the second round to remain undefeated in her professional career.
“I appreciate all the support I've been getting, especially this early in my career,” says Wyatt, who now boasts a 7-0-0 record. “I have friends that showed up two weeks after they had a baby, friends who postponed flights to come to the event. I even have one of my Uber drivers here. He gave me a ride one time and said ‘Oh, you’re a boxer? I’d love to come watch’ and I said, ‘Sweet, come down.’ Words can't express how much I appreciate the support.”
The heavily anticipated main event — what many called a battle between the number one and two welterweight (140 to 147 pound) boxers in Alberta — featured a contest between Edmonton’s Flavio Michel and Calgary’s Devin Reti. There was no love lost between the two prospects, as Reti called out Michel at the previous Dekada event.
Reti outclassed Michel and scored a technical knockout victory in round three to maintain a perfect record and move to 12-0-0.
Short explains that it was a competitive card that featured everything from spectacular knockouts to surprising victories.
“Kandi Wyatt knocked out a veteran of the sport, Gwyn Lewis was upset … this just shows this is real boxing and they are not worked fights,” says Short. “Devin Reti knocking out the other top guy in western Canada, in a fight between the best two in the region, was a great way to end the night."
With Dekada's next event taking place on Jan. 19, Short says high quality events, like the one on Nov. 3, will continue to grow the blossoming boxing community in Calgary.
“We are proving to the community that there are other sports other than hockey and football,” says Short.
- By Dan Khavkin