Greg Mercer, Record staff
KITCHENER — Adrian Teodorescu, the amateur boxing coach who led Kitchener’s Mandy Bujold and Lennox Lewis to the Olympics, has died from cancer.
Canada’s boxing community was staggered by news last week that the Romanian-born boxing coach was in a fight for his life with lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. On Wednesday morning, his fight ended.
“Until his last breath, he was talking about boxing. I think that passion was contagious, and it inspired people,” said Bujold, who credits Teodorescu with helping her reach the Rio Olympics in August.
“He was able to bring out the best in his athletes. And he cared. Boxing was his life. Even on Friday, the last day he could talk, he was making strategies for all the boxers in his gym.”
Teodorescu, 73 had beaten lymphoma once before, in 2008. But he kept his health struggles private from even his closest boxers. Bujold knew he was sick, but only recently learned it was cancer.
She spent his final days by his bedside in a Toronto hospital. By then, his secret was out, and a parade of boxers who trained under him came to pay their respects.
“He didn’t want anyone to know,” Bujold said. “That’s just the way he was. He didn’t want to worry anyone. It was tough to watch him like that, but I always thought he was going to get better. I thought he was super human.”
Teodorescu taught hundreds of boxers, but his greatest feat was probably coaching Lewis to Olympic gold at the 1988 Seoul Games. He taught the British-born, Kitchener-raised fighter to play chess, and showed the boxer how strategy, not just fitness or power, could triumph in the ring.
While the pair parted ways when Lewis turned pro, Lewis reunited with Teodorescu late in his career — bringing him in as an adviser before he fought Evander Holyfield in 1999 for the unified heavyweight crown.
Teodorescu also coached Mark Leduc, who won light-welterweight silver at the 1992 Games in Barcelona, and helped Egerton Marcus win middleweight silver the year Lewis won gold.
Bujold, meanwhile, says Teodorescu changed the way she looked at her sport.
“I’ve been all around the world, and I’ve never met a coach like Adrian. He looked at boxing differently. He was one-of-a-kind,” said Bujold, who has organized a fundraiser to support her coach’s funeral costs and keep his gym afloat, at fighttoendcancer.com/2016/fightforadrian.
He commanded the respect of those he trained, she said, and was beloved for his Romanian jokes that fell flat when translated into English.
Teodorescu, who owned and operated the Atlas Boxing Club in Toronto, will always be remembered for his “tremendous legacy to the boxing world,” according to officials at Boxing Canada, the sport’s governing body.