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Solid Gold At 14

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JULY/AUGUST 1994      v23 n06 p08  
What's a father to do with two little boys, a year apart, with more energy than they know what to do with, and a propensity, like all little boys, to scrap? Put them in boxing gloves and put all that energy to good use.

That's what Les Laframboise did when his sons were five and six years old and today, at 14, Dana Laframboise holds the Canadian Gold and his little brother Jesse is just waiting to get his mitts on it when he's old enough to compete next year. "He wouldn't have any trouble this year," says his father.

What is the secret to training a champion? Channelling a natural ability and putting in a lot of hard work, says coach/ father Laframboise. It takes a lot to compete. Dana has over 50 bouts under his belt, and there are no easy bouts for him, says his father. He always takes on opponents heavier or older.

And it's paid off. No-one could have touched him at the national level. His first two opponents were 16 years old and the last was 15.

The road to victory started in the family basement. Laframboise, who began by training his sons, soon gathered other enthusiastic kids and the Riel Boxing Club was formed. The club now has its own building and is a member of the Saskatchewan Boxing Association. A flourishing bingo clientele and supportive, fundraising parents and members pay the rent.

Dana, the star of the club, has won, this year alone, the Diamond Belt Tournament, Saskatchewan Golden Gloves, British Columbia Golden Gloves, Alberta Golden Gloves and, of course, the Canadian Gold. Last year, he won all the gloves in the western provinces and, in February, stopped the Montana champion in the first round.

Dana Laframboise Dad the coach has given him the summer off. "I don't want him to burn out," he says. And in the fall, Dana will be be back in the ring at the Los Angeles Blue and Gold Tournament in September, Western Canadians in October, Thunder Bay and Montreal - all this fall. Next February he will be fighting fit and prepped for the Canada Games in Grand Prairie.

"You can only peak an athlete twice a year. We'll gear up for the Nationals with maximum endurance, speed and thinking," says his dad.

Is dad a tough coach? Yes, says Dana. Speed training, skipping, shadow boxing and running keep him on his toes. His role models are Mohamid Ali and old-timer Jersey Joe Walcot. Does he expect to do well at the Canada Games? Yes, says this confident young man of few words, quietly and without a moment's hesitation.

For a club just four years old, the Riel already has quite a reputation in the sports world.

"I'm just so proud of Dana," says his father. "He realized what it takes and was willing to put in the work. I think that kind of dedication creates a positive attitude to everything in life and helps them out further down the road. Already my son is cool and collected and very humble about his achievements. Both my sons are good boys. They compete with each other, but they're always there for one another. Sharing a sport creates a special bond," he says.

Tina LaRose is also very proud of her sons. "Dana is quite the little athlete and he acts as if it's no big deal," she says. "Jesse, a year younger, has almost as many titles, though he's not yet old enough to compete nationally. And our boys are the only two boxing athletes of aboriginal descent from the western provinces."

Les Laframboise works out of town during the week, so Dana and Jesse have to take the initiative for their own training, and they do, says LaRose. "They jog in the morning before school; come home and do a two hour workout. When it comes to competition day, they're fully prepared.

A special talent, honed to excel; this is the stuff legends are made of. Last month, the First Nations Sports Hall of Fame was opened, honouring our stars of yesterday. It is dedicated young athletes like Dana and Jesse who will keep the aboriginal flame burning brightly.