Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Golden Boy tutoring boxer

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IF you're looking to refine your skills in the boxing ring, you could do worse than tapping into the expertise of a former world champion.

Roland Vandal, who will face Lee Laquette in one of the early bouts on tonight's Peg City Massare card at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, has spent the past few months getting advice from Winnipeg-born Donny Lalonde, former WBC light heavyweight champ.

The former "Golden Boy" hasn't been leaning over the ropes at Elite Boxing MMA yelling out encouragement because he lives in Costa Rica. However, Vandal has been sending him video of his sparring sessions and Lalonde has been quick to provide his input in return.

"I've really improved my boxing," said Vandal, 42. "He's telling me to punch off my left leg more and he's showing me how to use my jab more and move my head. It's really working. I respect him, he's a former world champion."

The two met many years ago through his uncle, Dan Vandal, a Winnipeg city councillor and former professional boxer in his own right.

Lalonde didn't want to say too much about the advice he has been passing along for fear of exposing Vandal's fight strategy.

"Let's say he needs to work on defense, balance, head movement and punching in combination. He is working hard at these," he said.

Vandal hopes the words of wisdom are enough to have his arm raised for the first time in his five professional fights.

But Lalonde is an inspiration to him outside of the ring, too. Both were victims of abuse when they were young and Vandal has adopted Lalonde's "No excuse for child abuse" slogan and put it on T-shirts for this fight.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 12, 2013 C8

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