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Boxing - Zaya Younan
My name is Zaya Younan, formerly a Canadian boxer in the 54 kg weight class. I was born July 1, 1968 in Baghdad IRAQ. I started my boxing career when I was 11 years of age in 1979 at Club Nadi Tamous. In my first year as a boxer, I was able to win the 1980 IRAQ national junior championship in the 28kg weight class. This is was a dream come true for me. I never expected to win this way. It was then I found that boxing was what I was born to do. I trained hard that year, and what a pay off winning the championship was.

I continued my training at club Nadi Tamous, and at the age of 15 in 1983, I transferred to club “Nadi Shourta” or “Police Boxing Club” in Baghdad, IRAQ. There, I continued my training, and after only 5 months, I entered the IRAQ nationals at the 48 kg weight class and won the championship. This was big for me. I couldn’t believe all this. A few months later, I entered to compete in the IRAQ national championship in the 51 kg weight class and I won. This time, I received the title from the Arabian national champion, Brahim Jima.
I continued training hard for the next 3 years, and in 1986, I won the silver medal in the IRAQ national championship. I also received an award for the "Best Technical Boxer" in the tournament. In addition, I received a special gift From Samile Khalil who at the time was the “Asian national amateur champion” for 2 years in a row. He awarded me this gift to show his appreciation for my hard work and my fight preparation.

During this time, there was a war between IRAQ and IRAN. Fearing for our well being, my family and I decided to leave IRAQ on August 1986 and escape to IRAN. This was the only way out of the country at the time and it wasn’t easy. After getting through the IRAQY checkpoints that were setup at each state line. We had to walk for 12 days to get to IRAN. When we reached the IRANIAN border, we surrendered our selves as refuges. It was here where my boxing career came to a stop.
In 1988, IRAN held its 1st ever-boxing tournament with 180 boxers, all competing for the cup. I decided to compete for the “22 Bahman” and I won a silver medal competing in the 60kg weight class and I was given the best technical boxer award once again. Soon after, I returned to my 57kg weight class, and after competing again, I won the TEHRAN and IRAN national championships. In that same year, I won the gold medal in the TEHRAN championship. After only a week, I was taken to Asfahan and I was able to win the Gold medal.

In 1990, we decided to leave from IRAN and move to Syria. The reason for this move was Syria had a Canadian embassy and it would make it easier for us since that’s where we wanted to go. Unfortunately, the war between the USA and IRAQ prevented me from boxing in Syria. In 1992, we were granted a VISA to come to Canada with my family.
After getting to Canada in 1993, I resumed my boxing career by joining McGrorey's Boxing club in Hamilton, Ontario. Within one year, I won the Ontario Boxing championship in 1994 and then the Canadian national championship. I beat Claude Lambert by a score of 9-4 at the nationals. My goal was to have a chance at competing in the PANAM games that same year. But due to my Canadian citizenship situation, I was unable to compete in the PANAM games.
In 1995, I finally received my Canadian citizenship. That same year, I won the bronze medal in the 54kg weight class at the International Boxing Tournament held in Tampere, Finland. In 1996, I won the Canadian national championship for the 3rd time, in the 54kg weight class and made the Canadian Olympic boxing team. I also won the bronze medal in Porto Rico at the PANAM games. From there, I went on to win the 1997 Canadian National Championship in the 57kg weight class. Later that same year, I competed in the Francophonie games and came in 4th place. In 1999, I won the silver medal competing in the 57 kg weight class at the PANAM games held in Winnipeg, Canada. I also traveled to Argentina and won bronze in the 57kg weight class. In 2000 I retired from boxing after winning the silver medal at the Canadian National Championship.

I’ve really enjoyed my years in boxing. It gave me the opportunity to compete, travel and meet some incredible people. Currently I’m working as a trainer at a local club here in Hamilton, Ontario Canada, helping some new and ambitious young athletes that are coming up. For any one who is involved or looking to get involved in boxing, either for fun or professionally, I can only tell you this, go for it and never look back.