THE BOXING JOURNEY OF MIKE STRANGE: By Brian Zelley
Introduction of the Michael (Mike) Strange story:
the Nineties, one of the key former boxers that was there from
beginning to end was former boxer MIKE STRANGE.
I first saw Mike when he was in the Goodwill Games in Seattle
in 1990 and have followed his journey over the years from
1990 to 2000.
However, this will be a story through the eyes of many that were
part of his journey from club shows to International tournaments.
Before 1990: "Finding The Road of Excellence>
There are many stories that could be told about his
pre-1990 experience in the ring long before his
open senior Canadian boxing champion. One of those
moments was being a member of Team Ontario's
Boxing 1987 "Canada Winter Games Team"
Mike earned a silver medal, but just as important
was it gave him another learning experience.
THE YARDSTICKS TO MEASURE EXCELLENCE
There are many yardsticks that we can use to measure
excellence and quality, and some of the words that
could be used to judge the quality and excellence of
Mike are "Efficient and Effective Consistency"
as demonstrated by the extreme ends of the time
period between 1990 and 2000.
The year 1990 was the first year that Michael Strange earned
a title in one weight division, and in the year 2000 it would be
more of the same but in a different weight class. From 1991
onward, Mike would win despite the weight class and be
a part of many CANADIAN AMATEUR BOXING TEAMS
that would see action around the globe from Seattle, Washington
and Victoria, B.C to the far reaches of the land down under in
Australia to other locations in Canada and around the globe.
THE BEGINNING OF A JOURNEY 1990
Winning the Canadian featherweight title in 1990 was to
be an important start for Strange, but it would also
include being part of a team with some of the other
champions. In 1990 some would fight in one and
some would fight in the, Canada vs USA bouts,
Goodwill Games, the Commonwealth Games.
Some of the Canadian boxers in competition
March 1990 between Canada and the USA would be
Mike Strange vs Oscar de la Hoya in featherweight
competition and others such as Graham McIntosh,
Vernon Linklater and Domenic Filane Figliomeni.
At least three of the Canadian champions would
be in action in Seattle in August of 1990 to see
action in the Goodwill Games. At least three of
the quarter finalists would be Mike and team
mates Chris Johnson and Mark Leduc.
Some of the other boxers that competed were
Oscar de la Hoya, Ivan Robinson, Shane Mosley,
Felix Savon, Jeremy Williams and Larry Donald.
1990 A Moscow moment:
Mike Strange and Billy Irwin
(photo courtesy of Billy "The Kid" Irwin)
THE END OF THE JOURNEY 2000
Of course, the year 2000 would not be a
complete end of Mike's boxing story, but
it was the last great fighting moment when
Mike as one of the key boxers would lead
his fellow boxers into action in the
2000 Olympic Games in Australia.
THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD BETWEEN 1990 and 2000
1991 - The Champion Returns - Sacrifice and Power
It was 1991 and one of the hit songs was called
"Sacrifice" and one was called "The Power",
and through combination of sacrifice and power,
Mike Strange, Domenic Filane Figliomeni,
Bill Irwin, Mark Leduc, Greg and Chris Johnson,
Dale Brown and Vernon Linklater would return as
Canadian senior open champions with Mike still
holding the featherweight title for another year.
The other champions in 1991 were Mark Irwin,
Steve Beaupre, Stephen Ouellet and Tom Glesby.
One of the International tournaments in 1991
was the Pan American Games with some of the
Canadians winning medals, but no gold.
1992 THE FIRST TASTE OF THE OLYMPICS:
The first step in the process is to win a title, or
win a couple of box-off bouts against a champ.
Returning champions for 1992 were:
Domenic, Michael, Bill, Mark, Greg, Steven, Chris,
Dale and Tom. Some new faces would be:
Marty O'Donnell and Kirk Johnson.
The 1992 Canadian Olympic Team:
Michael Strange, William (Billy) Irwin, Mark Leduc,
Raymond Downey, Chris Johnson, Dale Brown,
Kirk Johnson and Tom Glesby.
1993: The Returning Champions:
Mike, Domenic, and Dale would be returning
front and centre, but some new champions would
be those such as:
Casey Patton, Fitz Vanderpool, Jamie Sparks,
Randall Thompson and Rowan Donaldson.
1993: The Commonwealth Games test matches:
Although the actual Commonwealth Games were
one year away and the final team would not be
decided until 1994, it was important to stage the
test match tournament in Victoria, BC in
August 1993 called the Commonwealth
Invitational at the Archie Browning Sports Centre
In one of the first bouts by Mike, he scored a
decision over Scotland's Bradley Welsh. This was
followed up Saturday August 28th bout with
Australia's Joe Zabakly.
1994: The Road To The Commonwealth Games
would be the lightweight champion. There would be other
returning champions and some new faces or former champions
of years earlier. One of the new faces was Allan Bayne.
Like the test matches of 1993, the Commonwealth Games
would be held at the Sports Centre in Esquimalt, but the
boxers would be at the athletes village by the University
From a cast of hundreds of volunteers, coaches, officials and boxers, the
above list are some of the names. There were other volunteers etc. but
it is not possible to list or remember every name.
The Canadian team would win four gold by
Casey, Michael, Rowan and Dale. Silver by
Steve Gallinger and bronze by Wald Fleming
and Domenic Filane Figliomeni.
includes Yvon Michell, Ron Donaldson, Doug Bolianatz
Michael Strange, Dale Brown, Domenic Filane Figliomeni
and Allan Bayne.)
Gold At The end Of The First Five
For Ontario boxer Mike Strange it was now gold at the end of five
but this was not even the mid-way point of the eleven year run
as a senior open boxer and one of the best in Canadian history.
1995 -THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD ALONG
THE MIKE STRANGE BOXING HIGHWAY
A very interesting fact is one other boxer that had fought
Michael when they were both young juniors of less than
100 pounds would be there as a Canadian champion
with Mike as a team mate for the rest of the Nineties
and who could forget Domenic Filane Figliomeni.
The Eighties Flashback - Michael and Domenic
touched gloves and came out fighting after the
sound of the bell with the bright lights shining down,
But in 1995, there would be other faces that would travel for
a time down the same path as Canadian boxers on the world stage.
Some new names to add to Mike's ever growing list of fellow
Canadian champions and team mates in various shows would be
Jean Francis Bergeron, Jason Heit and Zaya Younan.
For the Canuck clouters there would be bronze and silver
at the Pan American Games in Argentina with Mike
winning the bronze along with Claude Lambert
and the silver would go to Jean Bergeron.
Olympic Boxing - Round Two for Mike Strange
Randell Thompson,Casey Patton,Wayne Gordon, Yvon Michel,
Phil Boudreault, Jean-Francis Bergeron and Mike Strange.
The year was 1996, and once again Michael would
be part to the Canadian Olympic Boxing team
along with other Canadians
Michael would box his way into the quarter finals with two big
decision wins over Francisco Martinez of Mexico and then
Mekkhak Ghazayan of Armenia, but drop a decision to a
Bulgarian boxer. Team mate David Defiagbon would earn
a silver medal in the heavyweight division.
Another Four Years (1997 to 2000)
The never ending journey of Mike Strange:
As we follow the Mike Strange boxing story, there would be
many more highlights and some new team mates and many
opponents along the way.
1998 Another Round of Commonwealth Games Action:
The 1998 Commonwealth Games would be far from the
shores of Vancouver Island, but the results would be the
same with positive results. There would also be the face
of Domenic Figliomeni who has travelled the journey for
the many years. But, there would be other faces from
the past such as coach Taylor Gordon who also has that
ol Vancouver Island connection and some may recall
that he was once a boxer competiting in the
1963 BC Golden Gloves. Some of the others were:
Andrew Kooner, Chad Brisson, Trevor Stewardson,
Scott McIntosh and Troy Ross.
For Michael Strange it would be Commonwealth Gold,
but in a different weight division. In 1998, he stands tall
with the light-welterweight gold.
The last major show would be the 2000 Summer Olympics.
SOME OTHER HIGHLIGHTS and AWARDS
Along the way there would be plenty of awards including
Boxing Canada's "Male Boxer Of The Year". From
1990 to 2000, the 1990 recipient was Raynond Downey
and the 2000 recipient was Scott McIntosh, but look again
for 1995, 1996 and 1998 the BOXER OF THE YEAR
was MICHAEL "Mike" STRANGE.
Then there is Boxing Ontario and it's list of "Boxing Ontario
Legends" and two of the names are:
Billy Irwin and Mike Strange.
GOLDEN MEMORIES AND SILVER MOMENTS
Introduction: by brian zelley
I was expected to meet Michael in 1990, 1993 and 1994.
but due to an interesting set of circumstances, that never
happened, so my only real golden memory of Mike is that
of the long-distant shadow boxer dancing in the dark with
some silver glimpses of him from far away. But, it is
through the words and sounds of others that we can
appreciate Mike's achievements and his long-term
dedication to the sport of amateur boxing from a
local level to many experiences on the stages of
From the words of some of his old friends and
BILLY "The Kid" IRWIN
A thousand words and a 100 photos would not be able
to catch all the memories and moments, but here is just
a few of Billy's thoughts:
GRAHAM MCINTOSH, former boxer and now
a boxing coach of his own club in Kelowna, BC.
Graham was a senior open boxing champion in
1990 the year Mike won the featherweight title.
One of Graham's memories relates to a dual
Canada vs USA matches with s strong view
of Mike battle with Oscar de la Hoya:
"I remember Mike beating de la Hoya in a
close counter-punching battle. Unfortunately
the judges didn't see it that way, 2-1 split.
Other boxers from Scotty Olson to Vern Linklater
have recognized and praised Mike. Then of course,
Domenic Filane Figliomeni has not only said many
excellent comment, but remembers his junior bout
with Michael and there many trips and travels.
Domenic has been the go-to-guy for highlighting
and recognizing many of the past champions of
the Nineties including his outstanding video of
Canada's boxing team at the 1992 Olympic Games
and the Facebook site:
"Fans of the Canadian & Olympic Teams Alumni"
and organizing a re-union of past champions where
many of those that were there in the Nineties came
together for a moment in time:
In Summary, How do we measure Excellence?
There is no need to measure the excellence of Michael Strange.
Although, this is not a complete boxing story, it attempts to
highlight some key moments in time. There is no attempt to
try and rank Michael against any other Canadian boxer.
Mike's record stands on it's own along side the records of
such long term champions as
IAN CLYDE and DOMENIC FIGLIOMENI.
Mike's three-time competition in the Olympic Games
is, for boxing, the sign of supreme excellence.
Along this long journey, Mike has come into contact
with hundreds of folks involved in boxing, and during
his time as a junior boxer to a senior elite champion
there have been many club mates and team mates
and some like BILLY IRWIN were there in the early years,
the championship days and the post-active boxing days.