Meet Dennys Vanfleet, longtime Toronto Athletic Club Member and a staple in the club’s boxing community alongside resident Boxing Trainer, Dexter Delves.
After nearly five decades as an Investment Advisor with TD Waterhouse, the newly retired Dennys has had a long career of pulling punches and blocking jabs. As ex-football and rugby player with shoulder and knee issues, it wasn’t until after a string of health scares, including a stroke, with another to follow, that he decided it was time for a lifestyle change. That’s when he met Cambridge Group of Clubs Boxing Coach Dexter Delves and turned his health around.
Dennys joined the club in 2003 and hooked up with Dex within the first 6 months of membership, and they’ve been training together for the last 13 years. As a mild asthmatic and a result of the strokes, Dennys recalls being on a tableful of medications. After several months with Dex he was able to reduce those medications by half and at the one-year mark, he happily stopped requiring meds altogether.
The pair train 3 times a week, often cranking tunes from dancehall artists like Shabba Ranks while Dex calls out combinations and the two spar around the room. Dennys also attends a regular Monday and Saturday class. And don’t let Dennys’ age fool you, he’s as agile as ever, performing high kicks as he proudly details how, “…every year during my physical the Dr says I look good…this year? He said I look GREAT!” In fact, he correlates his hard-earned physical prowess with his incredible bounce back post-full knee replacement where a mere 11 days later he was back in the gym!
Their comradery surely helps set the tone of mutual respect, “Dexter is inspirational. He really is inspirational. You don’t want to disappoint him. Today, I came in kind of tired and he demanded more out of me and he got it. Usually I come in and say, there’s not much in the tank today. Well, he makes sure he drains whatever’s in there. Dexter wants me to crawl out of here when we’re done!”
Maybe that explains how at age 66 this “rebuilt by Dex” version of Dennys was able to not only enter the ring, but win his first fight. With Dexter’s encouragement, Dennys participated – with a literal bus-load of supporters – in Adelaide Club’s 2013 Boxing Rumble, with tremendously successful results.
So what is it about boxing that’s so special? As Dennys puts it, “Working out can be boring for me. Dexter drew me into my ‘workout for life.’ Boxing is enjoyable and it gets results.”