Arthur Biyarslanov, a.k.a The Chechen Wolf, is Canada’s most accomplished boxer in over two decades. From representing Canada in the 2016 Rio Olympics to winning the Gold medal at Pan-Am 2015 (The first for Canada since 2015), Arthur has many accomplishments under his belt. A Chechen national by birth, Arthur came to Canada when he was 10 years old as a refugee and has lived ever since at 260 Wellesley Street in St. James Town.
Arthur, along with The City and The Corner, organised a Donation Drive for St. James Town residents on the 11th of May. The donated items, mostly non-perishable food, was distributed among residents who had registered with The Corner earlier. Arthur himself contributed in a large way to the drive together with from residents who came up with generous donations. Arthur met the donors at the Wellesley Community Centre and interacted with the youth, sharing autographs and playing sports with them. Later he was at The Corner distributing the donated items and interacting with the residents. More than 60 families in the neighbourhood benefited from the drive and they went back home with a ton of food including pastas, beans, cereals, canned meat or veggies and fruits. For Arthur this serves as an important part of his values as fasting during the holy month of Ramadan reminds him of those who have to go hungry and his obligation towards them as fellow being. Arthur, along with his friend Masood, hope that they can do this on an annual basis.
Arthur remembers how, as a newcomer back in 2005, with no knowledge of the language and new to alien conditions, he still felt welcomed in St. James town with its diversity and multiculturalism. Even though he trains in Montreal now, his family still lives in St. James Town and he feels home when he is in the Neighbourhood.
“Even now when I am in St. James Town, I can’t walk outside with saying hello to people. Everyone knows me, I know everyone. It’s home.”
Arthur studied at Rose Avenue Public School and trained at the Cabbage Town Boxing Club and claims it was sports, especially soccer, that helped him learn the language and make new friends. He holds the Wellesley Community Centre very close to his heart as the hub for him and his friends to hang out and get involved in various neighbourhood activities. Arthur still is able to relate to what newcomers go through but maintains that St. James Town is definitely the most welcoming place in Toronto and with its proximity to downtown and access to various schools and other amenities, it is the best place for newcomers to settle down.
Arthur feels that the neighbourhood need more ways to engage the youth in order to keep them active and motivated. Arthur observes that although the neighbourhood has several amenities and services available, most residents are unaware of these things and they need to be better advertised in this regard. He hopes that in the coming days he can contribute in a greater way to his community and hopes to start activities or events to encourage youth to take up sports. He believes that each and every one should pick up at least one sport regardless of whether we excel in it or not. He also believes it will help the youth stay motivated, fit and active and help turn their backs on drugs and is a great harm reduction strategy.