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  Boxing With Demons
The Redemption Story Of Stéphane Ouellet

By Jeff Emond Jeffrey

Stéphane Ouellet is one of the most amazing boxing talent ever produced in Canadian history. A native of Jonquière, Quebec, this pugilist possessed a natural jab, powers in both hands and outstanding hands speed. As an active fighter, he won the Canadian light middleweight title against Roddy Batson and two Canadian middleweight championships against Alain Bonnamie and Alex Hilton. His impressive victory over Hilton made him the WBC number one contender in 1998. He also been a part of arguably the most exciting boxing trilogy the country have seen facing his arch rival Davey Hilton , a former WBC super middleweight champion.

Along Eric Lucas and Otis Grant, Stéphane Ouellet brought boxing out of the shadow of the underground in the late nineties and helped build today’s sweet science popularity in the province of Quebec.

Throughout his career and after his retirement in 2004, this charismatic fighter struggled with alcohol and drugs addiction. That was until now. Ouellet got his life on the right track again and announced that he will be back in the ring in 2012. Recently, the fighter know as ‘’The Poet’’ agreed to talk to us about his career, conquering his personal demons and the reasons of his comeback to the ring.

Jeff Emond Jeffrey:
Good afternoon Stéphane. How are you?

Stéphane Ouellet
: I’m very good and I’m training very hard and seriously in the gym

JEJ: You recently announced that you would be back in the ring after a seven years outside of the ring. What reasons motivated you to come back in the ring?

SO: You know what they say, once a fighter always a fighter. Plus, boxing is doing very well these days and I still got the passion to fight inside of me. Last time I was in the ring against Joachim Alcine, I lost by knockout in the first round, it was a disaster for me. I didn’t finish my career on a good note and I would like to change that more than anything in the world. So I’ve got my boxing license back and Yvon Michel of GYM promotion said he will give me the opportunity to have 2 or 3 more fights. On a personal level, I have been able to beat my personal demons and now I’m clean and healthy.

JEJ: After such a long time outside the ring. What are doing to be on fighting shape again?

SO: Well in the last few years I worked in construction and also started to serious running in January 2010 to get my cardio like it was when I was an active fighter. I’m looking at fighters like Antonio Tarver and Bernard Hopkins having successes at their age and I’m sure I can do that to. My work in construction his very physical, so I rebuilt my body to be ready to train in a boxing gym again. Now here I am, doing serious boxing training with my new trainer Michel Degagnier. I feel like a new man!

JEJ: Boxing fans in Quebec can’t wait to see you fight again. Who would you like to face in your comeback fight?

SO: I don’t mind fighting anyone out here. I just want to to give a good show for the people who love boxing around here. To be in the ring again would mean so much to me. When I was younger I didn’t realize how important it was to give it all, I wasn’t serious enough. Training 3 hours a day in the gym was easy for me. But working in construction 10 hours a day is harder. Now I’m much more conscious about the value of time today and sacrifice. That is why I train much longer in the gym than I did years ago. I’m happy that I will get the opportunity to do it right this time and erase the bad memory of my two last fights against Joachim Alcine and Omar Sheika.

JEJ: You mentioned on RDS in January 2011 that you wanted to face Joachim Alcine again. Did Alcine agreed to fight you again?

SO: Not yet. Alcine is very busy training for his fight with Lemieux, but he said the door wasn’t close in a near future. I will have to wait a little bit and see what happen. In an ideal world, this is the guy I want to fight again .Avenging my lost is one of the reason of my comeback.

JEJ: Let’s go back in time for a moment. How did your interest in boxing started?

SO: At twelve years old, when I was a boy scout and hockey player in Jonquière. My fifteen years old sister was in high school at that time and she had a huge crush on Robert Gagnon, a local amateur boxer. One night, after she came back from school, she told me I should box too, because I had big arms and she told me girls loves fighters and I would be in shape doing that sport. I knew she brought me in the gym to be around Robert any chance she could, since she liked him a lot .She was very funny, but I liked the idea of fighting and fell in love with boxing. When I was playing hockey, I found out I wasn’t a team player, so boxing fitted well with my personality.

JEJ: You are known as a natural gifted fighter. In your career you have defeated notable opponents prior to the Davey Hilton trilogy, like James Hughes, Alain Bonnamie, Dan Connolly, Roosevelt Walker, Wayne Powell, Eddie Hall, Alex Hilton twice. How do you feel about those accomplishments?

SO: I feel good about those wins and having a respectable record of 29 victories and only 5 defeats. But honestly, I could and should have done better. I was a rebel and I wanted things to go my way, not my team’s way. I took training lightly, but in the ring I was ready for a war. During a fight, everything worked very fine in there, I had a consistent jab, good hands speed, and my feet were always at the right place to land my left hooks and combinations. But when your young and head strong, you don’t thing about listening to your trainer or working hard in the gym when your having good performances inside the ropes. I was partying all time and alcohol and drugs were a huge part of my lifestyle and I didn’t thing I would hit rock bottom one day, but I did.

JEJ: On November 27, 1998. You dominated Davey Hilton Jr during eleven rounds in front of 15 000 fans in the bell center of Montreal. Then you enter the final round. In the last moments, Hilton caught you in the corner unleashing a flurry of punches. At the same time you got your head out between the second and the third ropes. While you were doing that, referee Denis Langlois called a halt to the conquest at 2:42 seconds and declared Hilton the winner by technical knockout at the surprise of everyone in the building. According to you, was it an unjust decision?

SO: It truly was and it changed my life. I was robbed of my victory over Hilton by referee Langlois. I was sober and trained so hard for this fight. After his controversial stoppage, Denis Langlois soon retired from the sport because he didn’t received any support from the RACJ ( Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux du Québec) for this decision. I wasn’t alone thinking this was a wrong decision, my team, the people, the media, boxing experts and the RACJ felt Langlois made a very doubtful verdict. Sadly, the referee had the final word, so not much could be done. Did Hilton land some punches? Yes. Was I hurt ? No.

Just seconds before I found myself in the corner, I lost my mouthpiece by a punch. The referee saw that and didn’t stop the action so I could get it back. I really feel he was looking for a reason to stop this fight at first sight of trouble for me. Langlois had no reason at all of stopping the match. In the worse scenario, he should have given me a standing eight count, that’s all.

Why it change my life? I was the WBC number one contender and my next fight would have been against Hacine Cherifi for the WBC middleweight championship in France for one million dollars. I was devastated and lost myself again in alcohol and drugs again, my own personal demons.

JEJ: Did you meet Denis Langlois after this fight?

SO: I did. As a matter of fact we found ourselves in the ring again, trading gloves at the gym Champion in Montreal. He was a boxer there and I was preparing myself to face Alcine. Everyone in the place expected me to punish him for what he did to me. But I wasn’t angry at him anymore and we became friends. Anybody deserves a second chance in life.

JEJ: You fought Hilton again on may 28, 1999 and lost by TKO in the third round. After two crushing defeats by knockouts, then on September 8, 2000 you dominated Hilton and won a well deserved unanimous decision in the final chapter of this trilogy. Your comments on this exciting fight?

SO: It was truly an amazing fight and and wonderful feeling of redemption. I trained for this one like a madman and my young son William was there that night. I vowed to defeat Hilton. I was focus like never before in my career. I did everything right during the fight and I took him to school, like our first encounter. As the fight progressed, my level of anxiety went up, because it reminded me too much of our first bout together and how it ended for me. But I took control of my emotions and made no mistake in my most important win of my career.

JEJ: Right after defeating him, Davey Hilton fought Dingann Thobela, the then WBC super middleweight champion in Montreal. Most experts and fans were expecting you to fight for the championship. Your thoughts?

SO: Yes, I was supposed to fight Thobela for the title. After all, I beat Hilton decisively. Sometimes you lose even if you win . At first, I felt cheated by my team. Many things happened after my victory over Hilton, I could have made a thousands good decisions, but I went the other way and it was the beginning of my downfall. I couldn’t control my emotions after my biggest victory, even if they were good ones. So I stumbled again in drugs, alcohol. You know, it a disease, not too many people understand that. I permitted my inner demons to control my life again.

For a long time, I was very angry at my promoter and friend Yvon Michel. But looking back, I understand he had a business to run and I no longer have bad feelings against him. I was his number one athlete in his team. But me not being the most stable person, Yvon had to go on with show. I remember that he tried so hard to get me on the right tracks again. He had no choice but to find somebody else to showcase for this championship fight.

My problems went on through my fight with Omar Sheika in 2001 in Las Vegas. My mind was elsewhere and I lost the fight in the second round. It all ended with Alcine in 2004.

Soon after the Alcine fight, I needed time for myself away from the ring and the public life. I’ve been able to conquer my personal demons and rebuild my life. Now I’m ready to fight again and I’m in great shape. Everything is going so great in the gym. Like I said before, I can’t let my career end on a bad note. I have to win my redemption in the ring.

JEJ: Along Eric Lucas and Otis Grant, you’ve carry boxing’s popularity to a whole new level the province of Quebec. Are you proud of that achievement?

SO: Yes I am. Eric and Otis are great guys and great fighters. but before me there were other guys, for example Géatan Hart. As for today there so many good fighters from Quebec too.

JEJ: Thank you for your time Stéphane and good luck.

SO: It’s been a pleasure.


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