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Angelo Habib an ‘inspiration’ to his community after international boxing triumph

Thousands of kilometres away from his northeast Calgary boxing gym, Angelo Habib earned his first professional championship in convincing fashion.

On Saturday, the 27-year-old Greek-born Canadian boxer won the vacant Universal Boxing Organization (UBO) International Super Lightweight title against Victor Bernal in Melgar, Colombia.

Habib made light work of his opponent, winning by stoppage inside the first minute of the first round, extending his professional record to 9-0 with five knockout wins.

“Knowing that I have that capability to do that is awesome,” Habib said in reference to his triumph. “I didn’t think it would be as quick as it was.”

But the win wasn’t just his. It was a victory for the communities where he grew up, in the city’s northeast. 

“It’s an inspiration to everyone that he won,” said Kimani Crawford, a fellow boxer. 

“Especially for the people that know him and people at the gym and the boxing community.” 

Crawford coaches and trains out of Olympus Boxing Club in northeast Calgary — a gym that Habib started with his brother George in 2015 to create a safe space where anyone could learn the sport. 

Crawford has his own aspirations, with his sights set on the Summer Olympics in Paris next year. Habib’s victory, he says, is something everyone can look to.

“The championship, indeed, is a big victory,” Crawford said. “It takes a lot of courage, hard work and sacrifice to get to that point.” 

A group of people are pictured
Habib, pictured in the middle, secured the victory in the first minute of the first round. (Submitted by Angelo Habib)

Growing up, Habib said, his parents couldn’t put him through team sports like soccer or hockey. So he turned to boxing and is making a name for himself through the sport. 

He said he sees himself in a lot of the kids who are part of his gym. 

“We got a lot of kids that are from low-income housing that can’t afford to play team sports like hockey or soccer, including myself when growing up,” Habib said.

“I looked up to guys that were professionals and always wanted to be like them.”

Now, 15 years later, he’s in their shoes, those he looked up to, and wants to set an example.

While his latest win earned him his biggest success so far, it also left him hungry for more.

“We just keep training, we keep grinding because, you know, there’s always a bigger fish to fry,” Habib said.

“It’s a good confidence boost but we just keep working harder now for the next one.”

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