Lightning in a bottle: Tony "Lightning" Luis is destined for greatness

09/26/2017 6:52 PM - Devo

Tony "Lightning" Luis, the current NABA-WBA Lightweight champion, makes his first title defense October 14 in Cornwall, Ontario. But that's not the whole story. You don't just walk in the ring and know how to fight. It takes years of sacrifice and a multitude of ups and downs to get where Luis has gotten. I had the privilege to speak with Luis about his early years, how he got involved in boxing, and how a computer malfunction ultimately made him a stronger person.

The GM’s Perspective: People see the bright lights, the glamour, and the money, but not the behind the scenes. What is your typical training regimen like, especially with a title fight coming up on October 14 where you, Tony “Lightning” Luis (24-3 8 KO's), defend your NABA-WBA Lightweight championship  at the Cornwall Civic Complex, when you face Giovanni Straffon (14-2-1 9 KO’s)?

Tony “Lightning” Luis: For instance, my last three training sessions for the week will be tomorrow (Friday) and that will be the end of a six day stretch where I’ve been going sometimes twice a day. That’s a combination of, a minimum, five boxing sessions a week (two to three hours) and half are my hard sparring days. I do my strength and conditioning in the morning which consists of long-distance running. Other days it could be sprints and interval training. Of course I incorporate a variety of sport specific strength training (weightlifting, plyometrics).

GMs: Do people really truly understand the work you do to get to the level you’re at today?

TL: I think the majority of people don’t because, simply, they don’t see it. They only see the final product on fight night. People always think so and so made X amount of dollars, but they don’t know that I went two months without pay to get to this moment here. Sometimes training costs money if you have to bring in sparring partners or you need to upgrade equipment…

GMs: For those unfamiliar with your story, how’d you get involved with boxing?

TL: I got my start as a young kid in martial arts. I was about seven years old when my dad put me in Karate. My dad was a black belt in three different disciplines and was one of my sensei’s.

I was in karate for about five years and pretty successful in a variety of karate and kickboxing tournaments. I was a blue belt at the time, but my goal was to get a black belt. I was close, but at around nine years old, my dad had an opportunity to go back to his roots and start teaching boxing again at a local fitness center.

For a few years I was juggling both; karate and boxing. When I got a little older I had to make a choice between the two and boxing got my heart. I discovered my dad’s old fight collection he accumulated over the years as a fan and once I started diving into his old amateur tapes I was hooked.

Photo courtesy - Liveco Boxing

GMs: What’s it like defending your title in your hometown of Cornwall? What can the fans expect when you get in the ring?

TL: They can expect speed, action and lots of intensity. I bring it every time. I love to entertain and put on a good show. The fans will get their money’s worth.

GMs: Tell me about the scoring error that directly impacted your route to the Beijing Olympics in 2007. How did you handle that? When you talk about mental strength and the ability to overcome, this has to be at the top of the list...

TL: If I would’ve won in the final, I wouldn’t have been guaranteed a slot in the Olympics, but I would have been given the opportunity to try and qualify. I would’ve had the chance to attend Olympic qualifiers and at least medal at one of them to try and make the team.

I won my regionals and provincials and three fights later I’m in the finals of the Nationals against the three year defending champion and Boxing Canada’s athlete team rep.

So, I’m ahead after half-way through the fight and after the third round he’s two points up...I bounce back and have a pretty good fourth round. And with twenty seconds to go in the last round (I’ll never forget it), they said their was a computer malfunction and the computers froze. And all the points in the fourth round never counted and went back to the previous score in the third round to determine the winner.

I was very bitter, but at the same time relieved. I knew the result didn’t define my performance or who I was as a fighter.

GMs: Since turning pro, you’ve held multiple titles, including the NABA-WBA Lightweight championship. Not many people are able to do what you do. What do you attribute as the driving force behind your success?

TL: I love this game. This game has taught me so much about myself, built my character, and has been my safe haven and refuge when I went through some difficult times in my personal life. It’s always been something to steer me back on track whenever life gets tough.

Photo courtesy - Liveco Boxing

GMs: You’re fighting in your hometown in a few weeks. And being a hometown champion, there’s probably more than one person that looks up to you. What does that mean to you?

TL: It’s humbling. A boxer’s life is a lonely life. Especially juggling a fulltime job, while training full time. I’m a substance abuse counselor at a youth treatment centre on a native reserve just on the outskirts of my hometown. I’ve been there for about five or six years. I have a very good relationship with my employer and he supports my career fully. I’m very blessed in that sense.

When I’m in camp I’m in my bubble. When I’m in camp getting ready for a fight, I don’t get out that much; work, home, train, work, home, train. I remember my fight in April, the first one in Cornwall, I went to run stairs at the hockey arena. There were few kids from a distance that recognized me and they asked for a picture and knew everything about my career. That’s where I got that reinforcement I needed. These kids’ eyes lit up. Sometimes we forget that people care and appreciate you. You get caught up in yourself you forget about the little things. This is what fuels me and makes me want to work that much harder.

GMs: Any final words or information about the upcoming title fight?

TL: For people out of town or those who may not be able to make the trip, Liveco Boxing will usually have a live PPV stream on their website. To our hardcore contingent fans that have supported me through and through and have been with me since day one, I am very grateful for that. For all the new fans introduced to the sport, I highly suggest you come out and check out the fight and have a good time. You’ll definitely get your money’s worth.

On October 14, I’m defending North American title. I’m ranked 12th in the world right now and this will get me one step closer to a world title shot. A world class event is happening in your backyard.

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here

Henderson Alvarez leaps from Indy ball to Phillies main squad

09/18/2017 12:19 PM - Devo

After years of battling injuries and basically written off the baseball map, Henderson Alvarez has made it back to the major leagues.

Since appearing in seven games with the Long Island Ducks, totaling 32 innings, it appeared Alvarez was getting back into the groove after not appearing in a big league game since 2015 or building up any substantial minor league time either.

Alvarez went 2-1 striking out 13 and posted a 3.09 ERA, which was good enough for the Phillies who sent him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where played some of his best baseball in years.

The sample size is small (three games), but Alvarez has always had great stuff and he proved it once again. In 19 total innings he struck out eight, walked six and orchestrated a 2.84 ERA. He also held opponents to a .268 batting average.

With the end of the 2017 coming to a close, and the Phillies sitting at 58 total wins, it's time to see what they have going in to 2018. At 27, there is nothing stopping him from turning into a long term solution for any club going forward. The Phils made a move with no downside, the upside could be unlimited.

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here

Speak up! Concussion Legacy Foundation has something to say

09/11/2017 8:36 AM - Devo

Football is a monster. There’s no denying its popularity, heck, it owns a day of the week. Millions and millions watch every week, but it's also the most violent.

While the movie Concussion brought to light the severity of head injuries in the game to the masses, I've been fortunate to speak with some of the smartest, most knowledgeable people that specialize in this sort of trauma over the past three to four years.

In 2014, I spoke with Chris Nowinski, former WWE wrestler. He was forced to retire in 2003 after a series of concussions left him with post-concussion syndrome. Since, he's published Head Games: Football’s Concussion Crisis in 2006 and co-founded the Concussion Legacy Foundation (formerly the Sports Legacy Institute) in 2007.

CLF is now celebrating it’s 10th anniversary and I was fortunate enough to speak with Samantha Bureau, Director of Public Relations - Concussion Legacy Foundation Canada who was able to elaborate more on what CLF is and what is next for an organization that provides so much for so many.

The GM’s Perspective: Can you explain the role the Concussion Legacy Foundation plays in Canada and athletics?

Samantha Bureau: The Concussion Legacy Foundation Canada aims to educate communities across Canada through a variety of programming and initiatives. We pay particular emphasis on youth athletes because we believe that in educating today’s youth we can change concussion culture. By educating youth athletes that head injuries are something to be aware of and deserve proper medical care we can create a culture that this invisible injury is just as serious as a broken leg or arm. We love sports and want to see youth athletes benefit from sports the way many of us at the organization did growing up. We just want them to do so in a safe manner.

GMs: You have a very extensive background. What exactly is your role in the organization?

SB: My main role in the organization is to coordinate all of the programming and outreach initiatives in the Ottawa area. I recently took on the role of Directing Public Relations, but my day-to-day role within the organization is focusing on the Ottawa area and how we can educate the public. As a former research assistant at Boston University School of Medicine under Dr. Robert Stern in the CTE Center, I have seen first hand how repetitive head impacts can impact individuals, families, and communities. As I continue my own educational journey, I am very fortunate to be able to give back to the community and organizations that I played sports through growing up.

GMs: Team Speak Up Day is coming up. What is the purpose of the day and who are you trying to reach?

SB: Team Up Speak Up Day is scheduled for September 12th, 2017, but in actuality, the themes from this day can be carried forward all year round. The purpose of the event is to reiterate to our youth that head injuries are serious and that we can keep our teams safe by delivering a simple speech to athletes at the beginning of their season. This speech has three main points: 1) we’re a team, 2) because we’re a team we look out for one another, 3) as a good teammate, we expect you to speak up to a coach or a trainer if you suspect your teammate has suffered a concussion. Our goal is to reach as many of Canada’s youth athletes as possible with this message.

GMs: The Concussion Legacy Foundation has been in existence for 10 years now, what does that me to you and what do you think it means to all the families and athletes who have dealt with brain injuries one way or another?

SB: 10 years is most definitely a great milestone for the Concussion Legacy Foundation. Here on the Canada side, we are very proud of our US counterparts on this accomplishment. While we are still in our infancy on the Canadian side, we see promising growth each year. For all those who have donated, suffered, or supported, this milestone is a great marker for the good that has been done and what has yet to come.

GMs: With football still America's game, and injuries common place, do you think the NFL is doing enough to protect its players.

SB: Although I spent the majority of the past 5 years in the US for my undergrad and research years, I will admit that football has never been my main sport of interest. Growing up in your typical Canadian family, hockey was the sport I lived and breathed. With my basic knowledge of the sport I’m not the best person to comment on what the NFL has or has not done to protect its players. At the end of the day there have been important changes over the years and there will continue to be changes made in all sports of this nature.

GMs: What is next for CLF?

SB: We have a lot in the works for the foundation. While I cannot speak for the US side, the Canadian side has some great events and initiatives planned in the coming months and year. Our ultimate goal is to take the foundation nation wide. This year we expanded into Ottawa, Ontario and we’ve had nothing but support in our short time here. It is our hope that this momentum continues and carries us forward into new cities across Canada.

GMs: If an athlete or others wanted to get in touch with the organization or learn more about it, what's the best way?

SB: We have multiple ways for people to get in touch with us about the foundation. First and foremost, our website concussionfoundation.ca, which is linked closely with the US site, concussionfoundation.org, has plenty of resources and information about who we are, what we do, and how to get in contact with us. We are also very active on social media and can be found on Twitter (@concussionCAN) and Facebook (Concussion Legacy Foundation Canada).

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here

A Patriot earns his Red Sox

09/04/2017 12:29 PM - Devo

The former 10th round pick of San Diego Padres out the 2015 MLB June Amateur Draft has signed a minor league contract with Boston Red Sox.

Justin Pacchioli just leveraged an All-Star season with the Somerset Patriots in the Independent Atlantic League to a shot to move up the rungs of the Boston Red Sox.

After taking a year off to care for his ailing mother, Pacchioli had himself an All-Star year. He hit .281 with a team a team high 61 runs, third in the league with 35 stolen bases (caught two times), and tied for sixth in OBP (.384).

All these stats are very reminiscent to his numbers at Lehigh where he compiled 69 stolen bases in four years (caught three times) to go with a .344 batting average and .449 OBP.

No matter how good anyone thinks they are, you never really know who’s watching. When the word came down that the Red Sox were interested, it was still very surprising despite all that he’d accomplished.

"When he said that to me about the Red Sox being interested in signing me, I kind of laughed and asked if he was serious. He was like, 'You think I'm joking?' And I was like yeah, kinda ... I wasn't really thinking about going anywhere or doing anything like this. You can say that until it happens, but then when it happens, you've got to make a decision."

After four games with the Salem Red Sox he’s still waiting to record his first hit, but that comes with the territory. With nothing but great comments about his ability and character, Salem has themselves a competitive guy with a knack for causing chaos when he gets on base.

“We love to bring in young, competitive guys into spring training, and Justin fits that mold,” said Somerset Patriots manager Brett Jodie. “He is a plus defender in the outfield and can create havoc on the bases with his speed. While he does not have a lot of experience, we think he is a good ballplayer who will turn some heads in camp once he gets here.”

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here

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