After a nearly four-year hiatus, middleweight boxer Arthur Langelier returned to the sport late last year. The title-winning boxer is now training harder than ever to build on his legacy as one of Saint Lucia’s best to ever step into the square circle.
His last bout was at the Caribbean Boxing Championships held in Guyana in 2018 and he’s now back in the hunt to achieve something he’s always wanted: to win a medal from one of the major global championships. He’s also hoping to avenge past losses.
“In my last bout, I lost on a split decision to Guyana’s Desmond “Dynamite” Amsterdam,” Langelier said in an interview late last month. “So I’m hoping that one day I will get back at him and get a better decision. I’m also trying my best to do my best in getting prepared for the best.”
Langelier’s desire to be the one of the best in the sport is not new. In fact, even before he got into boxing, former U.S. heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson, was Langelier’s iconic symbol of greatness. But Langelier didn’t know back then that he would end up sharing Tyson’s never-say-die trait.
Langelier was born and raised in Belle Vue, Vieux Fort. At age 14, his mother, Sandra, migrated to Martinique to seek work, leaving him in the care of his elder three siblings. Things were tough, but the youngster had to adjust quickly to the harsh realities of life.
“Everybody was on their own business and I had to fend for myself,” he recalled. “I spent two weeks lying on my mother’s bed, doing nothing but drinking water and eating mangoes. Soon after that, I took up football.”
He added: “I’ve always loved boxing and believed that I could be the next Mike Tyson. So, in 2010, when I was 25 years old, I took up boxing. It all happened when I was maintaining the Sab Sports Facility when Coach Conrad Fredericks approached me and asked me to join the Vigie Boxing Gym nearby. He told me he saw the potential in me, so I decided to take his advice and give it a try.”
Looking back, Langelier says he still feels blessed meeting Coach Conrad, whom, he said, was the first person to make him aware that Saint Lucia even had a functioning boxing gym. He remembers his first experience coming to the gym with his co-worker, Alvin Simeon, who explained to him the various boxing techniques.
Within a short space of time, Langelier was punching his way through opponents and becoming a household name. To date, he has won a string of successes, including five gold medals at the Creole Boxing Championships. He is also a three-time OECS Boxing Champion. The sport even afforded him the chance to reunite with his mother.
“I remember calling my mother to tell her that I was taking up boxing,” he said. “She reminded me that I couldn’t take punches to the head. I told her that I had a good coach and that I would do the best I can. She eventually told me that if that’s what I wanted to do, that I had her blessing.”
He added: “I get chills whenever I remember meeting up with my mother eleven years after not seeing her. I went to Martinique for the first time for a boxing bout. The empty spot that I had for years became filled when we met. That year was the best year for me in terms of boxing because I was inspired by just seeing my mother again.”
Langelier has fought in Saint Lucia, Barbados, Guyana, Antigua, Dominica, Ecuador, Argentina, Mexico and Guadeloupe. Further afield, he’s competed in the World Boxing Championships in Azerbaijan (2014), and the Commonwealth Games (Glasgow, Scotland, 2014).
At age 36, Langelier still believes he has the potential to continue his success story in the sport he says is like the air he breathes. However, he’s floored the idea of going professional, opting instead to just keep getting better at the sport.
“I really wanted to become a professional boxer; however, due to my age, I’m longer looking forward to that,” he stated. “I’m just looking forward to improving and becoming a boxing coach someday, working alongside Coach Conrad. He and I hope to take the best team to the Olympics one day and win some medals.”
After repeated calls from Coach Conrad, Langelier finally decided to step into the ring again last year. Theirs is a relationship that transcends the ring: Coach Conrad deems him a “loyal soldier” and “determined fighter”, while Langelier deems Coach Conrad his “father figure”.
Langelier is currently preparing for two major boxing tournaments this year: the AMBC Elite Men & Women Continental Championships in Ecuador in March-April, and the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, in July-August. Despite having a dozen years of experience in the sport, he acknowledges that it’s an uphill battle.
“Coming back to the gym after such a long time, I’m feeling the most pain I’ve ever felt,” Langelier admitted. “Training back in the day was very easygoing for me because I was fit back then. It now feels like I have to start from scratch. To be honest, the medals mean nothing now – hard work does. But I can assure everyone that I’m not returning empty-handed from the Commonwealth Games this year.”
Langelier’s boxing prowess has inspired two of his siblings to get involved in boxing. One of his brothers is now a boxer and represents Martinique, while his sister has also taken up the sport. It feels good knowing that the family’s boxing legacy can continue, he says.
“Some of my uncles were outstanding street fighters, something I found out after I got into boxing. That’s why when I step into that ring, I feel superior, that no one can touch me,” he noted.
As Langelier tells it, boxing has had a huge impact on his life. It’s shaped him to be calm person and responsible father. He says his life choices have been positive despite being faced with situations that could have led him down the wrong path.
“I can tell anyone that boxing is the best sport in the world,” Langelier said. “From where I was to where I am today, I feel that people should be encouraged to take up the sport. Boxing helps with learning discipline and building character.” – SLBA