WINNIPEG — Ralph “Junior” Moar will try to capture the Canadian light heavyweight title on Oct. 12, but there was a time when he was fighting for his life in prison, not for a belt in the ring.
Moar will headline when professional boxing returns to the Winnipeg Convention Centre Oct. 12 with a card dubbed “The Peg City Massacre.”
In 1997, “The Real Deal” Moar’s boxing career was reaching new heights thanks to a Canadian amateur title win as an 18-year-old. But after getting involved with drugs and guns, Moar quickly went from the sports pages to the front page. He was arrested as part of a sweeping police crackdown against the Zig Zags crew, a branch of the Hells Angels.
Moar was one of five men to go to court in what was then called the Hells Angels mega-trial. The charges against Moar didn’t stick but in 2000, he was sentenced to four years in prison for shooting a man in the head.
“Because I was associated with a non-aboriginal gang, I faced a lot of trouble with the aboriginal gangs,” said Moar. “I ran into a lot of problems, a lot of fights in jail. I had 10 guys try to stab me inside my cell and if it wasn’t for my boxing, I probably wouldn’t be here.”
Moar ended up spending 27 months of his sentence in solitary confinement, giving him plenty of time to think about his life and the direction it was headed.
“What do I be … a gang member for the rest of my life, or do I want to change my life?” said Moar.
Moar moved to Vancouver soon after his release from jail to help him keep his nose clean. Eight wins in 10 fights later and the now 34-year-old is once again fighting for a title.
“You know it’s a 180 for Junior,” said John Vernaus, Moar’s former manager. “I mean, he just went in the wrong direction with the wrong people. Junior is a success story as big as they come.”
So much so that a big-screen movie telling Moar’s life story is now in the works.
“It was hard to make everybody a believer obviously in the beginning,” said Moar. “But here we are 10 years later and the proof is in the pudding.”
And winning another title would be a perfect Hollywood ending.