Making the transition from world champion boxer to coach and business owner is an ongoing journey for Syd Vanderpool. The latest chapter is being written at the new location of SydFit Platinum Elmira.
The Kitchener native was a world-class professional boxer for 13 years. He was recognized as the number-one super middleweight in the world by the International Boxing Federation in 2004 before retiring in 2005.
“The transition was easy. Being excellent at a new craft was hard,” he said. “Because in boxing, I knew what the goal was, right? The goal was to compete at the highest level against the best athletes in boxing. When you start a business, what is the goal? Be profitable? OK. I don’t know, what is the goal? It’s different.”
As he was winding down his boxing career, Vanderpool says that he liked helping out around his gym and helping to train the younger boxers. He taught a class, then another, and then hired one of his trainees to teach a third. This was the start of his business.
But it was only when Vanderpool began to take the same approach to running his business that he did to boxing that his path became clear.
“So for me, I had to get a business coach. And I went, and I got a business coach. And we started to really understand the things that make a high-performing business. And so now I have targets in terms of how many clients do you want to service? How many five star reviews do you want to have? How many personal trainers? So there’s targets along the way, which then allows us to have a map. Now we have a map towards our goals, which is more along the lines of what I’m accustomed to.”
He says he feels his time as a championship boxer served him well in the business world. When he looks back on his boxing career, he sees that there were two distinct seasons. The first he calls his come-up.
“This is the way Lennox Lewis told me. He said to me, ‘Syd, sometimes you’re gonna have to kiss ass before you can kick ass, right?’ So my come-up was just dealing with whoever and however.
“And then after I fought my first world title, and I decided to come back again and go for a second world title shot, it was different. I only dealt with people who I’d want to invite over to my house for dinner. It’s like, if we can’t have a relationship, then I’m not really interested. And that’s the way I do business.”
He said that he intentionally selects people he feels comfortable around to work with, and this has created his centre’s signature comfortable and supportive atmosphere.
That said, Vanderpool won’t coach just anyone.
“They have to want to get better, and they have to want to be coached, because not everyone that comes into a training environment wants to be coached. Sometimes they believe that they can coach themselves, so they have all the answers because they can go to YouTube, and that’s fine. But if you have all the answers, then why do you need a coach? You don’t. You just need a facility to train at. And we don’t do that.”
The Elmira location will be the second physical location for SydFit, called SydFit Platinum Elmira.
Currently Vanderpool is coaching three people he sees are on the Olympic pathway: Scarlett Delgado of Brampton who recently won the continental American championships for the Canadian national team. Vanderpool says she will participate in her Olympic-qualifying tournaments in 2023. Jordyn Konrad from British Columbia is also on the national team. She just won a bronze medal at a tournament in the Netherlands. And Caitlin Clark from Sarnia who won a Canadian championship in 2019, he says.
“Excellence is excellence,” said Vanderpool. “So when you’ve been ranked number one in the world, and you have Olympic athletes, you know what success looks like, and you know how to coach people to get there.”