Local boxer Shakeel Phinn has a New Gym and New title in hand

Egbert Gaye

As 2016 comes to a close, Canadian Super Middleweight champion Shakeel Phinn is looking back at an action-packed year that brought some big challenges and some hard-earned successes.
This year he had six grueling fights, one of which earned him the title, and he saw a dream come true with the opening of his fitness gym in Ville Emard on the south- west edge of Montreal.
Now he is hoping to take it to the next level in 2017.
“Next year I’m looking forward to a couple fights in the U.S. and hopefully a big one at the Bell Centre,” Shak told the CONTACT in a recent interview at his newly minted gym.
In Montreal, we call him Shak; in the ring he’s known as the Jamaican Juggernaut. “I think my big dream for now is to fight at the Bell Centre…and it would be a lot better if it’s for a title.”
But that’s out his hands, so he is focusing on the things over which has control, fighting and winning. And he has done a lot of those over the past couple months, winning all six fights in a domineering manner.
Most of those fights took place outside of his hometown, Montreal, including the one in Saskatoon where he had to dominate hometown favorite, Paul Bdzel, to win the Canadian Super Middleweight title by unanimous decision in a tough 10-round fight.
He also fought in the USA, Toronto and New Brunswick, Quebec City and Gatineau, keeping his perfect record intact.
Shak says he has no problems taking on opponents in hostile territory: “Yes, I hear some boos once in a while but it doesn’t bother me. I go prepared to take care of business and that’s what I do.”
His confidence is equally matched by his overwhelming power in the ring, which has been on display in several of his bouts, including against Guillermo Campos in Toronto in June, which sent the Mexican fighter to the hospital for more than a week with a brain bleed. And more recently against Mehdi Madani of France who was knocked unconscious for a few minutes in the eighth and final round of their December 12 fight at the Montreal casino.
Shak says there’s no joy in seeing another fighter hurt, but once the bell rings it’s each man for himself, and there can be no holding back.
Currently ranked 16 by the North American Boxing Federation, Phinn says he has his eyes on that belt, which is now vacant and which might be within reach if things keep going his way.
These days, though, with his eyes set on the prize, Phinn is also keenly focusing on the new business project that he shares with his trainer Ian MacKillop and a business partner.
They opened the Donnybrook Gym in November as a training base for Phinn, but also as a camp from which he offers boxing lessons and fitness training to men, women and children of all age groups.
Just a month into it, Phinn says the place is already attracting a wide cross section of Montrealers eager to soak up some basic boxing skills while getting the cardio work out of their lives.
He teaches a general adult class on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and evenings, and children on Saturday mornings; the women’s class is taught by a female boxer on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
So far he says the feedback from participants has been amazing. It’s an ideal way for the kids to expend extra energy, and for adults the punching bags and boxing techniques are great ways to relieve stress and enhance conditioning.
Phinn says the gym also provides a solid base upon which he can build his personal program towards getting to a world title.
And he is confident that he can find international success fighting out of Montreal, pointing to the many highly respected pugilists from here who have made and are still making their mark in the ring, including Otis Grant, Adonis Stevenson, Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal.
So peeking into the future, the 26-year-old Montrealer is as confident as he is hopeful that things will continue to fall into place as he starts to take on higher caliber fighters.
“I know the road to the top is not going to be easy,” he says with that trademark Shak smile. “But I’m ready.”
Check Shak out at the Donnybrook Gym at 4912 Rue Brock, Montréal. (514) 757-1031.