From Fisher River Cree Nation, in Manitoba,Kent started boxing twenty plus years ago. His hero growing up was Muhammad Ali, and that is what started his interest in the sport.
He grew up in the north end of Winnipeg,a very dangerous neighborhood with drugs, alcohol and gangs. Of course, there were good times too, growing up with cousins and a younger brother. But they were poor, and there were times when they went hungry.
The divorce of his parent made him angry and he needed something to deal with that anger. Boxing was it for Kent.
“I WALKED INTO THE BASEMENT GYM OF THE CITY BOXING CLUB IN WINNIPEG. AND I ABSOLUTELY FELL IN LOVE.”
Kent has a lot of family members who have been in and out of prison. He believes that if it weren’t for the sport of boxing, he could have followed that same path. He would not have graduated. He would not have gone to university. He would not have had a professional job. He attributes that to boxing and the tools it gave him.
Throughout his boxing career, Kent has had over 120 bouts, winning 105 of his matches. In 2000, Kent became the Canadian National Champion and qualified for the Sydney Olympic Games, but was unable to go. In 2002, he won a gold medal at the North American Indigenous Games in Winnipeg.
Past President and now Director of Community Development with the Manitoba Amateur Boxing Association and holds a full Level 3 coaching certification from the National Coaching Certification Program.
Kent has had a very colourful coaching career including being the Manitoba Provincial Head Coach numerous times over the years and the Head Coach for the 2011 Canada Winter Games Manitoba Team which brought back one silver and two bronze medals.
Kent also currently coaches two Elite Canadian Amateur Champions, a Ringside World Champion and is the Boxing Coach
of UFC Fighter Roland Delorme.He uses both his First Nation Traditions and his boxing background in his teaching
methods. Respect is his number one rule in the gym; he believes in teaching our youth the values of culture through sport.
Since 2000, Kent has spoken to thousands of youth as an Athlete Motivational Speaker for Motivate Canada’s ESTEEM
Team program and has also trained other Olympic, Paralympic and National athletes as ESTEEM Team speakers.
Katie McKenzie is a registered member of the Gitanmaax First Nation and is equally proud of her Gitxsan, Cree,Saulteaux, Scottish and Irish heritage. She is a multi-talented youth who attends St.Boniface Diocesan High School and is an honors student. She plays guitar, ukulele
and piano and has shared the stage with Eagle & Hawk in the performance of “Sundancer” during Aboriginal Music Week.
Katie is also a sports enthusiast who is actively involved in swimming, volleyball and curling. She has been curling for 6 years and skipped her team to “A” side champions of the Elmwood Curling Club Competitive Junior league this season. Her love of curling came at a time when she decided she didn’t want to continue dancing
like so many other little girls her age. She said she wanted to curl! Quite shocking to her family as it was never a sport in which they were avid players. She came to the conclusion on her own that it would be similar to chess. So she was registered that fall and has craved the ice ever since.
Her love of the sport only grew as the seasons went on and she learned the role of the skip. That was also the same year the Roar of The Rings – Canadian Olympic Trials were held in Winnipeg. Katie won a contest to become a Junior Star. Junior curlers were paired up with an Olympic Hopeful Team to walk out on the ice with them to the traditional bagpipes and feel a part of the action. It was that experience that Katie decided she wanted to be
like those ladies and work her way to the Olympics one day.
Katie knows that her dream of becoming an Olympian will be based on hard work on and off the ice and requires determination,focus and practise. However, the most important thing right now is being focussed on her education and doing her best each day. Along with her goal of becoming an Olympian, Katie’s other vision is to become a sports medicine doctor.
With the determination she has shown in achieving her goals, there is no doubt she will achieve her vision.
Jim “Chief” Neilson
Alive and well, living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, retired NHL’er Jim Neilson has been an inspiration to many.Jim Neilson was born in the small town of Big River, Saskatchewan. Enjoying a seventeen-year career in the NHL, Jim was an instrumental force in paving the way for professional aboriginal athletes in the sport of hockey and athletics in general.
Jim learned the game of hockey at an early age,while living and receiving his education at St. Patrick’s Orphanage in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.His Danish-born father placed him and his two younger sisters in the orphanage when their Cree mother left the family. His father was a trapper who lived in the bush. What else could he do with
three motherless children under six? “He figured the best place for me to go was the orphanage.”
At 17, Neilson began playing Junior “A” hockey in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) as a defense-man for the Prince Albert Mintos. From 1962 to 1974 Neilson played with the New York Rangers. In 1972, Jim helped the Rangers make it to the Stanley Cup final against Boston, one of Jim’s proudest accomplishments. He finished
off his career in 1978/79, with the World Hockey Association’s Edmonton Oilers, playing with Wayne Gretzky.
Earlier in April of this year, he was at the Edmonton Oilers alumni farewell to the Rexall Place (formerly the Coliseum). That was the final home game ever for the Oilers in that old rink.
Milton Tootoosis says,
“I’m privileged and honoured to know Jim as a friend. We got him inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame for a reason.Not many NHL’ers overcame such incredible odds of making it the NHL. Further, he made it when there were only six clubs in the NHL so to earn a
job in the league at that time was exceptional. He also persevered and stuck it out by playing over 1,000 games as a pro. He’s an inspiring human being who hails from the Big River Cree Nation in Treaty Six Territory.”