If everything goes right, Lacombe could be home to the greatest boxer of all time in 18-year-old William O’Keefe.
“I’m dreaming way bigger. I want to to be the greatest — that is my goal. I am not focusing on that right now. I am focusing on Nationals. You can’t skip past stages,” O’Keefe said.
O’Keefe’s confidence comes after he had a domineering performance — winning the Saskatchewan Gold Gloves. O’Keefe dispelled both of his opponents in two rounds — with the second being a TKO performance.
“It was a rough week,” he said. “I went through some troubles with injuries with my right knee. It was hard to train and I also had an issue with my ankle, but it didn’t stop me.
“I trained healthy, ate healthy and then I won so I am motivated even more.”
The victory puts the former Lacombe Composite High School student on the path to the National Championships in the Spring, with Alberta Provincials coming first in February.
“I am 100 per cent certain I am going to win those Provincials given how I have done so far,” he said.
O’Keefe, who boxes in the 165 lbs. division, said he is able to adapt to his opponents with multiple styles.
“Sometimes I can go Mexican, which is swinging with more and more pressure; or I can also box defensive. Honestly, I like to go full rounds. I am not trying to always hit hard, but I have power that connects,” he said.
O’Keefe has been training out of the Red Deer Boxing Club for nearly two years, but has spent six months shelved due to injury. The time off allowed him to study some of the greats, including Muhammad Ali and Arturo Gatti — who O’Keefe counts as his favourites. He tries to incorporate strategies from both of them.
“I like to keep my feet moving, but I don’t like to waste too much energy. Sometimes I just stay down like Gatti and throw,” he said.
Ultimately, O’Keefe’s interest comes from a lifetime of following the sport.
“I 100 per cent grew up with it. I started at 12, but only for about a week. When I was 16, I decided to hit that sport again and then it turned out really well,” he said.
O’Keefe is thankful for the local support he has received and hopes that will grow with his success.
“I have got great support from my friends. I am not a noticed boxer in Alberta — not yet anyway. It is about to happen and I have a great following,” he said.