What does it take to become a world champion? How does it feel to win it all? These are just some of the questions answered in a tell-all book on the life of Waterloo Region’s world boxing champion Fitz ‘The Whip’ Vanderpool. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of his world championship victory, he is releasing a book – with help from co -writer Alexandra Cole – detailing his path to victory, beginning in the Vanderpool home where he started out sparring in family driveway with his 4 brothers. The official book launch takes place this Sunday, September 27th in Kitchener’s Victoria Park.
‘The Whip’ says he decided to write the book to inspire others to reach for the gold. “I didn’t have a lot of money. I didn’t have any major sponsors picking up the tab for my living expenses. I even slept under a boxing ring to save money. What I did have was a dream, a goal.” Fitz says he wants to encourage every young person to battle forward toward their dream, no matter what it is, or how hard it becomes. “It doesn’t necessarily have to be sports. Any dream – to be an artist, to design buildings, to raise a happy family – can be attained if you stick to it.”
Fitz ‘The Whip’ Vanderpool is one of Canada’s most celebrated and most decorated professional boxers. He won 5 Professional Boxing belts including the Canadian Professional Boxing Federation Champion Belt, and was crowned World Boxing Federation Super Welterweight Champion of the World. He retired from professional boxing in 2005.
With 30 years of boxing experience, and as a Certified Level 3 Boxing Instructor, he understands and values the dedication and effort required to nurture and develop fitness and boxing expertise. His endeavours include special training for high school students both at the schools and at The Whip Boxing and Fitness Academy. It’s located at 121 Charles St. West in Kitchener on the third floor.
Everyone is invited to the official book launch this Sunday. Fitz ‘The Whip’ Vanderpool and co-author Alexandra Cole will be at the KW Record tent from 12:30 – 1:30pm at Kitchener’s Victoria Park Pavilion. He will be available for interviews, and will autograph all books purchased at this event.
For those who can’t make the official book launch – The Whip will take part in a series of readings at regional book stores where the books will be made available. Those dates are currently being arranged – you will be able to get this information on his website when they are set. Or, you can order a book directly from The Whip’s website (www.fitzthewhip.com) over the next few weeks.
A limited number of books have been printed, so it is a first-come, first-served situation. The cost of these collector’s books is $30 at the launch and at the book readings, and $35.00 when ordering from the website.
Fitz ‘The Whip’ Vanderpool invites you to this event!
Media coverage to promote this would be appreciated!
“For me, there was not the luxury that most fighters have, of being sponsored, being able to focus completely on training, on succeeding each and every day. I was twenty-six years of age, had no manager or promoter, and there was the painful necessity of making a living, which of course took precious time from my training schedule. None of these things would stop me.”
On Joe Hajnal Sr.:
‘Joe Hajnal Sr. … saw something in me, perhaps my attitude to never give up, to chase a dream with the hard work that was to attain it, or just my resolve to prove the naysayers wrong. Little did I know at the time, that this person, who took such notice of my ability, would have an important place in my life in future days and would move through my career with me at my side. I consider our friendship a grand privilege and one of the greatest highlights of my life.”
Becoming ‘The Whip’:
“During the year of 1989, the Provincials were hosted in Kingston, Ontario where I exceeded expectations, winning the silver medal. At this event on May 12, I defeated Charles Cadieux, a Kingston, Ontario native, and during that bout, Fitz, “The Whip” was born. A rare occurrence in amateur boxing happened on that day, when in the very first round of the match, I threw a right hand punch …which sent my opponent crumbling to the canvas…Cadieux was incapacitated for approximately five minutes.
As I departed from the ring, a former professional boxer approached me, making the comment that I really whipped the punch. I kept repeating the phrase, “Whip – The Whip” over and over again and making a motion as if cracking a whip, while creating the sound verbally… Fitz “The Whip” Vanderpool came into existence on that night, and my right hand has been a matter of public comment since that time. The name became part of my image and CBC Sports always referred to me as “Whip” as did any boxing event announcer from May 12, 1989 onward.”
“There was another reason for me to coach…I had an overwhelming urge to give back and contribute, where I could, to the community that supported me. I wanted to do something personally for not only the athletes who came up the ranks by conventional means, but those who attempted or could not, due to being disadvantaged in some way. I will never forget what it was like to struggle and if I could help someone who had that fire burning within them, to achieve great things without all of the sleepless nights, the financial worries or the lack of connections necessary along the way, I would be happy to do just that.”
Caring for Kids with Challenges
“As I toiled to achieve my goals, I knew the meaning of struggle and there are children in communities who are living with different kinds of trauma and challenges each and every day, even in their own homes. I wanted my gym to be a soft place to fall for these children, for them to be able to learn that their bodies are tremendous instruments, instruments which can be used to further their lives and goals. My wish is that every child and young person would know their worth, and realize that they have much to offer the world by means of their talents and abilities. I would like to be there to guide them in that process and to demonstrate to them that there is someone who believes in them and what they can accomplish.”
It was ten years ago, on April 14th, 1999, that a 31-year-old Fitz ‘The Whip’ Vanderpool was standing in the ring at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, being crowned the WBF Super Welterweight World Champion. He had just beaten Stephan Johnson to claim the vacant belt. “It was a victory that had me behind on all the scorecards and the only way to win was by a knockout. I achieved the impossible and won by a knock out! My four brothers and I all dreamt of becoming a world champion – and I was the one who finally did it. It is the greatest feeling hearing your name called out as a world champion.” Fitz went on to successfully defend his WBF World Championship twice. It was one of four belts he had won.
This victory was the culmination of a meteoric career. On April 6th 1996 Fitz Vanderpool was Crowned Canadian Welterweight Champion – the first Professional Boxing Title for Kitchener in over 50 years. In 1997 Fitz won the W.B.F. Inter Continental Title and then took the W.B.C. Fecarbox Welterweight Title as well. “The Whip” held 3 Championship titles simultaneously. Unable to defend them all at the same time, he relinquished two of the titles and held on to the Canadian Title – holding it for over 3 years, becoming one of Canada’s most successful boxers.
He didn’t do it completely alone. His friend, a mentor and late boxing coach, Arnie Boehm helped him along the way “His experience in boxing gyms, inspired and grounded me.” And he remembers, with a catch in this throat, a man he calls ‘Papa Joe – Joseph Hajnal Sr. – his amateur and pro boxing coach and trainer. “He believed in me and inspired me. He helped me to see my vision in the darkness and to keep my dream alive.”
Fitz also took time to use his fame in positive ways for the community. In 1996 he was officially proclaimed an International Fire Safety Ambassador. In 1998 Fitz joined the board of directors of the International Fire Safety Ambassadors. And in 1999 Fitz was voted Kitchener Waterloo Civitans first ever Athlete of the Year.
Today, Fitz Vanderpool still has boxing in his blood. He owns and runs the Whip Boxing Academy, teaches boxing in high schools, trains up and coming young boxers, and gives as much back to his community as he is able. “I have accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish in my boxing career. Boxing is a sport that teaches discipline, self confidence, and respect. My goal now is to show youngsters that they can be successful if they work hard and believe in themselves.” He trains top athletes such as Mixed Martial Arts combatants and hockey players. He offers specialized FitBox for those who want to be in fighting shape, but don’t want to step into the ring, and also offers one-on-one personal training. He even has his own special brand of boxing gear – Whip Gear. Fitz ‘The Whip’ Vanderpool is also available for speaking engagements on variety of topics focused on motivation.