RED DEER – A Lethbridge resident has joined a list of the top athletes to ever call Alberta home.
Rick Duff – along with 11 other Albertans, including Edmonton Oilers star, Ryan Smyth – was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame on Friday (May 26).
The Lethbridge native – who was added to the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 – started boxing competitively in 1979, kicking off a career that would see him win seven provincial championships, five Canadian National Championships and a number of international events. He also joined team Canada at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, where he continued to fight after breaking his left hand early in his second match of the tournament.
“I am so stoked,” Duff stated when asked about being added to the Alberta Hall. “I don't really have the words for it, but I'm pretty excited and honoured that I've had this opportunity to be inducted. I'm very, very pleased and honoured to be inducted with this group of inductees in 2017. It's quite a feat.”
Following his appearance at the Olympics, and after taking some time off to recover from injuries, Duff joined the Canadian Forces, where he served as an artilleryman and later as a mechanic.
It was after his time in the military that he would come back to boxing, making his return as a coach. After volunteering as an assistant coach with boxing clubs in Lethbridge, Calgary and Edmonton, Duff became the head coach at the Lethbridge Boxing Club in 2010.
“In the last seven years, I've seen a big-time growth in female and young male boxers,” explained Duff. “I really have a strong team of about 10 competitors with two girls competing... and it really feels like it's growing every year.”
While he now works full-time for a local restoration company and makes a point of being a dedicated family man, Duff discussed where he finds the motivation to carve out the time needed to help grow and nurture the sport in our city.
“Trying to build champions and bring kids off the street, and make the gym membership affordable for kids to come down and learn the discipline of boxing. Get a little fit and get a little confidence in themselves.”