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February 24, 2015

ECSC Annual Honour Roll Combative Sports Awards Dinner

The ECSC held its 38th annual combative sports awards dinner Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at the Chateau Nova Hotel (Yellowhead Trail and St. Albert Trail) in Edmonton. The event featured recognition of Edmonton’s most outstanding combative sport athletes of the year for 2014 in professional wrestling, mixed martial arts and boxing as well as lifetime achievement awards for two Edmontonians who each have made extensive contributions to their sport. Awards were presented by Chairman Ron Goltz and Vice Chair Vang Ioannides.

KEN LELACHEUR (Lifetime Achievement Award Amateur Wrestling)

Ken has a long history of involvement in amateur wrestling, investing more than four decades in the sport. His career includes having competed as an athlete, coaching at several junior and senior high schools throughout his teaching career, and officiating at local, national and international levels. Ken started his wrestling career in junior high school, winning the City championship for his weight class, and a Silver medal in the AAU provincial championships.

Ken was selected for the first ever ‘Edmonton High School All Stars European Tour’ in 1970, which including attending the opening ceremonies of the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland, and wrestling against host clubs in Germany, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. After choosing to end his competitive activity, Ken became a coach, first assisting at his former school, and then organizing and coaching his own teams at various junior and senior high schools in Edmonton.

Ken has been coaching for more than forty years, encouraging the growth and development of young people through sports activities. Ken has also served amateur wrestling as an official, serving as both an on-mat referee and as draw-master. He achieved ranking at both the National and International levels, enabling him to officiate at elite level tournaments. In addition to his direct on-mat activities, Ken has been actively involved in both the Edmonton Amateur Wrestling Association (EAWA) and the Alberta Amateur Wrestling Association (AAWA) for most of this career. He has served in various senior executive positions, including serving several terms as President for both of those organizations. Ken has also been an active volunteer for host committees and organizations that have sponsored many local, provincial, national and international wrestling tournaments.

Although he has retired from an executive role with the EAWA and AAWA, Ken continues to serve the wrestling community in an advisory and volunteer capacity, and occasionally officiating matches for young athletes. He continues to support the development of amateur wrestling in the Edmonton area through his continuing involvement with local organizations, and “willingness to lend a hand". Ken LeLacheur is a most worthy candidate to receive the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

JOHN SHORT (Lifetime Achievement Award Combative Sports Media)

John Short fell into the media at the Toronto Globe and Mail as a 15-year-old copy boy after spending about a year calling the newspaper on Wednesday and Friday with the results of high school games involving the Runnymede Redmen where John went to school.

By the time he was 16, he was working in Port Colborne, Ontario, as a reporter – admittedly extremely young and green. Over the next couple of years, to learn his trade, he spent time on a weekly in Brampton, Ontario and small dailies in Nelson and Trail, B.C., as well as a weekly in Kimberley, BC.

From those small papers, he eventually reached the Calgary Albertan the precursor to the Calgary Sun. After years of changes – John moved to The Canadian Press, where he spent more than 10 years in three bureau locations covering sports and other politics.

John reminisces that the time at CP was probably the most enjoyable of his life. He was sent to several European countries to cover hockey, basketball, boxing and other sports. Eventually, he was offered a job as Peter Pocklington’s public relations director, shortly after Pocklington bought the Edmonton Oilers.

After two years of living with the Oilers in their last World Hockey Association season and first in the NHL, John decided he had to get out and wound up buying a small weekly newspaper in Maple Ridge, B.C. Although considered a great experience in many ways, John lost a little pride and a lot of money. He also learned that he’d rather freeze in Alberta than rust in B.C.’s rain.

In Maple Ridge, John got a call from Ted Byfield, asking him to be the managing editor Alberta Report Magazine; a great experience that brought John back to Alberta. Shortly after his return he was asked to salvage the CFRN Radio night-time phone-in radio show.

A three month contract with the station was extended for another three months and because John had made the show a success, this radio gig lasted more than 25 years. He also wound up writing an Edmonton Journal column for about the same length of time.

Television was eventually added to the mix. As John says, “the guy with the perfect face for radio was somehow doing two (and sometimes three) television shows per week.”

About the start of what is still a new century, he finally got tired of radio, about the same time that radio got tired of John. Now he stays busy with a couple of Edmonton Sun articles a week and as chairman of the Alberta Sport Connection, an organization which funds provincial athletes at all levels, in winter and summer sports, from the sandlot to the 55+ games to the Canada Games and support for athletes from Alberta that will make it to the Olympic Games.

With over 60 years in sports media, to-night we recognize John Short for the ECSC Honor roll and lifetime achievement award.

MITCH CLARK (Edmonton International MMA Competitor of the Year 2014)

Mitch could not attend but provided the following message that was read at the dinner.

I would like to thank the ECSC for awarding me with this honor tonight. Unfortunately in this sport, people only remember the negative when it comes to reffing, judging or anything commission related. It seems like a thankless job, so first I would like to take a moment and thank them for all that they do because without them, all of us fighters would not be able to do what we love so much.

Many people consider MMA to be an individual sport and in some cases it is, but I believe the reason I am successful does not only come from my work ethic, but from the team I have and the support I receive from them. I want to thank my home gym of Complete Fitness and Martial Arts and all my great training partners there. My Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach Jay Redmond for the foundations he has instilled in me which led to my UFC performance of the night submission last year. Thank you to KEIJIRO Noda and Billy Chow for all their work with me at Frank Lee's Muay Thai. Thank you to Milan Lubovic and Jelena Mrdjenovich for all your help at Avenue Boxing, I plan to use it well. I want to thank Andrew McInnes for showing me that being the bad guy can be fun and Roger Alves for keeping me on point with my wrestling. There's so many people to thank it would take longer than these award ceremonies allow so just one more. Thank you to my family for making me the man I am now and thank you to Rachel for being my rock during these hard times. Dating a fighter cannot be easy.

Thank you everyone for listening to me ramble even though I am not present. All the best everyone, keep on fighting whatever your fight is.

SHANE CAMPBELL (Runner up Edmonton International MMA Competitor of the Year 2014)

Shane has been fighting for 10 years, travelling the world competing and representing Canada. He professes, needless to say, that he loves to train and compete in any combative sport. A former WKA Muay thai world champion, and WMA world pro Muay thai champion and regarded as one of the best middleweight kickboxers in North America. He has studied a number of combative sports specialties and has been extremely successful in Muay Thai, K1, Kickboxing, Boxing, and Gi, and No-Gi tournaments. He has also blended all that he’s learned from competing in different events around the world. Some of the phenomenal gyms he’s trained at include Kru Alin's House of Champions, Cardinals, Complete, Mundarucas, and Now Toshido MMA. He has also spent time at Nova-Uniao, Alpha Male, and Kings MMA.

2014 was a transition year for Shane. Early on Shane competed in his K1 tournament and suffered a loss he says was attributed to not being focused and not training properly. He made the move to Kelowna to train at Toshido, a move that clearly has paid off.

His plans for 2015 are simple he professes: continue to set up his life in the Valley, maybe purchase his first goat, stock pile Shaolin gear and keep getting better as a competitor. Every time he steps on a canvas he is looking to create a highlight.

Shane notes that a lot of his friends will be having UFC fights this year so he both wants to help them prepare and also be joining them very soon.

ANDREW MCINNES (Edmonton National MMA Competitor of the Year 2014)

Andrews started training in 2004 with Mark Bocek. Andrew moved to Edmonton in early 2012 to train at Complete Fitness and martial arts. He achieved his black belt under Robert Drysdale. Andrew’s current coaches are Robert Drysdale, Mitch Clark, Roger Alves, Cam Yallits, Shane Campbell and Shara Vigeant.

Andrew was undefeated in 2014 with two big wins, submission of the night over Dan Ring and a second victory over veteran Ryan Healey who had more than 40 fights on his resume. Andrew earned a lightweight title shot with MFC, although the promotion is on a hiatus at present.

To give you an idea of how brutal MMA can be – in his first fight in 2015, Andrew was dominating his opponent when they fell to the canvas with Andrew on the bottom. His opponent dropped a vicious head butt to Andrew’s face, badly bruising but not breaking his orbital bone, but giving Andrew a concussion that will sideline him for 3 months. The Commission dutifully suspended his opponent for a comparable 3 months.

TIM HAGUE (Runner up Edmonton National MMA Competitor of the Year 2014)

Tim started training at the age of 23 with Master Kyle Cardinal, out of Bodyquest gym. He now holds the rank of Purple Belt in BJJ, under Kyle’s tutelage. Tim has trained in a number of specialty gyms including Kyle's gym, Triple Threat MMA, Hayabusa Training Center, Panther Gym, Avenue Boxing, Complete, The Fire, and a couple of others too numerous to mention. Tim had the opportunity to train in Las Vegas with Todd Duffee, Frank Mir, Wanderlei Silva, Kevin Randleman, amongst others.

In 2014 Tim had more fights than any other MMA fighter. Typically with competition injuries and compulsory post fight medical time outs assigned by ringside physicians, it is typical that aggressive MMA fighters compete about 3 times a year. In 2014 Tim fought 5 times. He won 4 fights via Knockout, and his only loss was to the current WSOF world champion. Needless to say, Tim likes to stay busy! He had wanted to fight one more time in 2014, in December, but that fight got pushed back to March 27th, and that's the fight he is preparing for now. The trash talk got to be a little much for this fight so now Tim has walked away from Facebook and social media and as he stresses I am just laying low, training hard, eating right, and getting a lot of rest.

In 2015 Tim wants to become the Unified MMA Heavyweight Champion. That's currently his only goal. After that he plans to defend the title and also travel to England for a relatively rare event – a bare-knuckle boxing match! Tim is looking for another exciting year in 2015 and enjoys helping the sport grow as much as possible.

CODY RIES (Edmonton National Professional Boxer of the Year 2014)

Cody actually comes to us from the sport of kickboxing. He has been involved in kickboxing for about 5 1/2 years, and really only started to focus on boxing about 2 1/2 years ago. Cody started his exciting combative sports journey at St. Albert jiu jistu and Kempo Kickboxing Academy as a means to get fit, but instantly fell in love with the competitive side. After learning the basics and advancing his skills, he transferred over to Kamikaze Punishment to further his training. While at the Kamikaze gym he was introduced to boxing and fell in love with what has been often called “the sweet science”. Cody also worked out with the Avenue Boxing boxers and currently spars with a number of awesome individuals as he refers to them: Mike McWilliams and Ming who are both from Avenue boxing and Dahi from Panthers Gym and some great guys at Southside Boxing Club.

Cody was undefeated in 2014 with 4 impressive wins over some very well respected competitors. Cody is under the boxing promotional arm of KO Boxing which he refers to as the best boxing promotion in Canada. For 2015, Cody’s goal he says is simple: keep improving, because he feels he is not even close to his full potential, and as he continues to advance in the rankings, he looks forward to gaining an even bigger following as he progresses up the championship ladder.

JELENA MRDJENOVICH (Edmonton International Professional Boxer of the Year 2014)

Jelena started her professional career in 2003 at 19 years old. A University of Alberta basketball player, Jelena was injured and took up cross training as part of her rehab. She was introduced to boxing and has never looked back. She trains out of Avenue Gym and has trained faithfully under the direction of Milan Lubovac throughout her career. Her meteoric rise to the top soon saw Jelena contesting for world titles and she claimed no less than 5 of them:

Jelena won her first title November 18, 2005 by way of KO in the 6th round against Francesca Alcanter (USA). Domination does create its own problems. Jelena finds it harder and harder to get international competition because of her 5 world titles and career record of 34-9-1.

In 2014 Jelena had three fights, one of them a defense of her WBC World featherweight title. She defeated Fatuma Zarika (Kenya), Pasa Malagic (Bosnia Herzegovina) and Marilyn Hernandez of the (Dominican Republic) to remain undefeated in 2014.

ECSC Executive Director Pat Reid signed some paperwork two days ago, in support of Jelena’s next scheduled fight on March 11, 2015 in Panama City, Panama. Her opponent is Francia Elena Bravo of Colombia. This will be the first title defense of 2015. This year or next Jelena wants to unify her titles for both the WBA and the WBC. And like a famous counterpart Manny Pacquiao, Jelena wants to move down in weight divisions and try fighting at super bantamweight title to become a champion in 4 different weight divisions.

BRICE “SLAMMER” SOVA (Edmonton National Professional Wrestler of the Year 2014)

Known in the professional Wrestling business as Brice “Slammer” Sova, he started his wrestling Career in Prince George BC for the Maniac Wrestling Alliance, where he got his initial training under Stuart Brown, who wrestled as the MAULER. Brice decided to make the big move to Alberta in 2006 and became a regular on the Real Canadian Wrestling roster where he quickly became a fan favourite. Brice also continued his training under the guidance of Ivan Thomsen and Red Thunder, and also began regular working for the Prairie Wrestling Alliance where he fought some of his toughest opponent including the Legendary Abdullah the Butcher.

Brice moved back to Real Canadian Wrestling, which he currently calls his home promotion and is the current RCW Canadian Champion but is also the only wrestler to hold every title in the promotion's history. Brice is known for his never say die attitude and also his desire to learn new material to improve himself in the wrestling business. Brice has traveled across Canada and into the US including two successful Northern death tours in Manitoba. Wrestling is truly Brice's life and passion as he lives, breathes and never stops trying to get to the next level in the wrestling business.

Brice has quickly gain the respect of his wrestling associates and many top wrestling stars such as Ken Anderson, Eugene and many others. Brice on a personal side is one of the most entertaining and down to earth people as he is always the first to help or just support anyone and anything. Brice is considered by members of the pro wrestling profession as one of the most genuine people outside the wrestling business, known for his strong support of many local charities in the community. Brice has a reputation for his crazy, wild personality as fans never know what he is going to pull for his next prank, intended to make everyone smile and laugh.

Brice had a very successful 2014 as he had one of the most vicious and entertaining feuds with Evan Adams and Cam!!ikaze. 2014 also saw slammer begin his second reign as RCW Canadian Champion and was known for giving 5 star matches anytime he went out to perform in front the crowd.

CRAIG MARTIN who wrestles professionally as CHRIS PERISH (Runner up Edmonton National Professional Wrestler of the Year 2014)

Craig Martin first entered the Edmonton independent wrestling scene at the Monster Pro Wrestling mini camps in November 2004. First as Stevie Saint, and later as Chris Perish, Craig has been a prolific performer in over 350 matches since that time. Craig's skills were guided and honed throughout by trainer Sean Dunster (Massive Damage), and refined further with veteran trainers Lou Gage, Vance Nevada, Phil LaFon, Leo Burke and in camps run by Adam Pearce and Les Thatcher. Craig has put this education to good use entertaining scores of wrestling fans, and eventually holding multiple titles with Monster Pro Wrestling, and a national title with CNWA in a longstanding memorable career.

Craig continues as a top contender in MPW and a force across the region. His great attitude, tireless work ethic, and effortless ability to play the baby face or the heel has led to interest from and success with many promotions including: Monster Pro Wrestling (Edmonton), Pure Power Wrestling (Lethbridge), Ringside Wrestling (Moose Jaw), and in many venues across western Canada with the CNWA. Craig's body of work is well respected, as shown by his place the last two years in the venerated Pro Wrestling Illustrated annual list of the top 500 wrestlers in the world.