By Lethbridge Herald on June 16, 2018.
Kai Yip Memorial Fight Night goes tonight at 7 p.m. Exhibition Park’s South Pavilion
Throughout Rick Duff’s boxing career, Kai Yip was a coach, mentor and father figure.
Now, the student and owner and head coach of the Lethbridge Boxing Club is making sure the memory of his mentor will be honoured by generations of boxers to come.
The inaugural Kai Yip Memorial Fight Night takes place tonight at 7 p.m. at South Pavilion Exhibition Park.
“He’s dedicated 35 years to the boxing program here and has built so many champions,” said Duff of his coach who passed away in February of last year. “We want to keep honouring him because it’s the plateau of where we come from and we’re building for the future to keep everything that Kai has taught us and keep it going.”
Yip was a member of the Canadian coaching staff and was Duff’s personal coach at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. He was inducted into the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame, the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame
“I’m very happy to put this on. I’m honoured to put this on for Kai in memory of him. Kai and I spent a lot of time together when I was growing up as a youngster. We travelled the world and went to a lot of Canadian championships together. My most successful thing was to go to the Olympics in 1984 and sharing it with Kai. We succeeded in a lot of things.”
As of Friday, Duff said about 10 or 11 bouts that are confirmed for tonight’s card.
“We have a couple first-time boxers. We’ve got two bouts with some highly skilled girls and we got a Canadian champion that’s going to do the main event. He’s fighting one of our boys (Josh Peck). We also have a Canadian champion (Kyle Oliver) from Lethbridge that’s boxing as well.”
Oliver, 17, won the Canadian championship last year and moved up to youth this year.
It’s his first hometown appearance, but Oliver — who won the Alberta Gold Gloves three weeks ago in Red Deer — isn’t treating it as such.
“It actually feels just as normal as any other event,” he said. “But it’s my first time being at home. So there are people who I know telling me they’re going to come, just knowing they’re going to be watching it still feels like any other competition.”
Fellow Lethbridge Boxing Club member Tessa Feldbusch will also be in the ring tonight.
But the 15-year-old is equally excited to bring the event to a hometown crowd.
“I’m really excited because we haven’t had an event like this ever that I’ve ever been a part of,” said Feldbusch. “I think it’s important for the Lethbridge community to get to enjoy it and to get to see the art of the sport. I think it’s going to be a really cool experience for everybody there.
“I’m excited to show Lethbridge what I’ve got.”
Feldbusch has kept busy heading into tonight’s bout and the schedule won’t let up afterwards.
“I’ve been to provincials up in Edmonton and went to B.C. for an all-girls tournament and I’m going to an all-female camp this summer,” she said. “So I’ve been pretty active in the competitions.”
Duff’s son, Jackson, will also be doing an exhibition tonight.
“He’s a three-time provincial champion and went to nationals a couple times,” said Duff.
As they prepare for tonight’s event, the Lethbridge Boxing Club has also been enjoying their new home on the northside which they’ve been calling home since late last year.
“In December we finally found a place to move into,” said Duff. “We love it. We brought back some old history and all time boxing. We can come in here and train when we want and how we want. The competitors always have access to the gym every day. They can come in and do training.
“We can be open more often and we can be more competitive. We are competitive, but we can be more competitive.”
The number of athletes training has gone up with the move to the new location.
“We’re at 25 and 30 a night,” said Duff. “So we’re pretty excited and we want to keep the numbers up. We still have space for more new boxers.”
Those interested in joining the club can contact Duff on Facebook at Lethbridge Boxing Club or can call the boxing club number at (403) 894-1754.
The doors open tonight at 6 p.m. and the bouts start at 7 p.m.
General admission is $20 and $15 for students and seniors.
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