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Former Jamaican Olympian Ricardo (Big 12) Brown headlines Victoria boxing card

Giant heavyweight Ricardo (Big 12) Brown, a former Jamaican Olympian now fighting out of Toronto, looks to add to his 7-0-0 pro record Saturday when he takes on Mexican boxer Miguel Angel Flores Gomez in Victoria.
This undated photo shows Toronto-based Jamaican heavyweight boxer Ricardo Brown. The former Olympian headlines a Victoria boxing card on Saturday, June 3. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-United Boxing Promotion **MANDATORY CREDIT**

Giant heavyweight Ricardo (Big 12) Brown, a former Jamaican Olympian now fighting out of Toronto, looks to add to his 7-0-0 pro record Saturday when he takes on Mexican boxer Miguel Angel Flores Gomez in Victoria.

The fight headlines the "Round 3” card at the Victoria Conference Centre at the Empress Hotel.

At six foot 7 1/2 and 275 pounds, Brown will stand out in a crowd. The four-time Jamaican national champion, who now makes his home in Brantford, Ont., competed at the Tokyo Olympics and won bronze at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.

"He's a giant man," said promoter Jason Heit.

"I think Ricardo Brown is a name that we can expect to see making some big waves in the super-heavyweight division and get up there for some big-money fights," he added. "If we look at some of the Jamaican-Canadian (boxers like), there's obviously a real good track record there."

That list includes Trevor Berbick and Donovan (Razor) Ruddock. Lennox Lewis, a former Canadian Olympian and world champion, was born in England to Jamaican parents.

Brown, whose opponent Saturday is a 38-year-old with a 3-9-2 record, has won all seven fights by knockout.

The card is the third put on by Heit's Champ Promotions since the pandemic and the first involving pro boxers.

"After such a long break with the pandemic, we wanted to make sure we could get our fans back, we wanted to build up our promotion team, get all the training where it needed to be," said Heit, who also trains fighters at Victoria's Island MMA Training Centre. "For us, the pandemic was just brutal on the promotion side. It's taken us this long to be in a position to take it to the next level. We wanted to be cautious and take our time."

Heit, who is expecting a sellout of 1,200 Saturday, is a veteran of combat sports.

As a fighter, he competed in boxing, kickboxing and MMA. He also looked after the likes of Drew Barrymore, David Duchovny, Nicolas Cage and Robbie Williams as a bodyguard.

At 17, he won the 1990 Island Tough Man Contest by knocking out three men in one night. He turned to amateur boxing and represented Canada at the 1995 Pan American Games. In 1996 he moved to Los Angeles to train under Royce Gracie, returning to Canada to run a gym in Duncan, B.C., that produced WEC and UFC fighter John (The Natural) Alessio.

Heit had his first pro MMA fight in 1997, before moving to L.A. to pursue pro boxing. That led to a career detour as a bodyguard.

He continued training in MMA, moving back to Victoria in 2007 to open his own gym. He posted wins in the Maximum Fighting Championship and King of the Cage promotions, retiring with a 4-0-0 mark.

His combined boxing, kickboxing and MMA record is 42-5 with 34 knockouts.

In 2008, he founded his own regional MMA promotion called the Armageddon Fighting Championships.

In 2011, Heit and Armageddon co-owner Darren Owen appeared on the ``Dragons' Den'' TV show in search of investors. With two fight shows under their belt, they asked for $55,000 for 10 per cent of their company to help fund its growth. They ended up agreeing to $80,000 for 30 per cent with Jim Treliving and Robert Herjavec.

Armageddon eventually joined forces with Edmonton-based Aggression MMA and Calgary-based AX Combat in 2012 to become the Aggression Fighting Championship.

In 2013, it was taken over by the World Series of Fighting which operates today as the Professional Fighters League

Saturday's card also features former Algerian Olympian Reda Benbaziz, a lightweight now based in Canada, and Victoria heavyweight Brandon Colantonio, a former provincial champion and silver medallist at the Canadian nationals.

"This kid can box for hours," Heit said of Colantonio. "He's got incredible cardio, endurance and heart." 


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2023

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press