“As a kid, I harboured a lot of hatred for my old man. He started doing drugs and was extremely violent. It was hell, but he did what he could. I went through about 26 different foster homes by the time I was 11, where I learned to steal and fight to survive. I learned not to take anything for granted, always respect what you got, and who you got — especially who you got.
I drew every day when I was a kid and, when I graduated high school with honours, I got scholarships for advanced animation. I also studied social work because I wanted to help troubled teenagers, guys like me. I started competing heavily in boxing and won a few championships. Boxing is the thing that makes the most sense to me — it taught me self-control.
I was dealing with a lot of mental health stuff in college and got myself involved with people I shouldn’t have, who offered me great things and to be part of something bigger. I eventually lost everything to this lifestyle — my fiancé, my house, everything. I started doing hard drugs and it led me to rock bottom.
In jail, I promised myself not to get into a single fight. That was really tough to do, but I did it. When I got out of jail, I didn’t have anybody, so I worked with the Calgary John Howard Society and they helped me find a place to live and someone to talk to. Not having anywhere to go after jail — that’s where most people crack and go back to what they did before. But I’ve come this far, and I ain’t going back.
Boxing has been the most influential thing in my life. When I thought I was a tough guy and stepped into the ring, I got humbled really quick. It made me realize that you can’t always approach everything with sheer force — you have to think things through and walk out of there with a lesson and a positive attitude.
I’m working on bettering myself, keeping my mind busy. I’ve really been enjoying cooking random stuff with my roommate and experimenting with it. Going to the gym as much as I can. And, as much as I am an introvert, being around people who are healthy and like to do cool things makes me happy.
Knowing I’ve been through all this stuff and can share my story, and say I’m not in that lifestyle anymore — I’m proud of myself for just making it. I am a whole person now and my mental strength and control are really good. I used to mistake being negative with being realistic, now I’ve changed my mindset and try to always look for the positive.
When I was a kid, everyone told me I wasn’t going to make it. People will tell you it’s easier to quit, but you gotta stay strong. There’s no easy way to keep going — you just gotta keep going.”