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
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
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
JEJ: You mentioned on RDS in January 2011 that you wanted to
face Joachim Alcine again. Did Alcine agreed to fight you
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
JEJ: Thank you for your time Stéphane and good luck.
SO: It’s been a pleasure.