Thirty-nine year old Armin Mrkanovic, The Bosnian Prince, fighting out of Queens, NY, takes his 9-3-0 title to Club Plaza Valerio, in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, to take on Dominican native and Irvington, New Jersey resident Wilmar Mejia. Although taking place some 1,480 miles from the heart of New York City, this is truly a New York Metro Region event with both fighters calling the New York Metro area home.
Mrkanovic is not taking his opponent lightly, and he shouldn’t, given that Mejia has 35 bouts under his belt, holds a record of 22-10-3, and is ranked among the top 1/3 in the world by BoxRec, as is Mrkanovic himself. Mrkanovic told MetroSports Magazine that he sees Mejia as, “a veteran with lots of mileage under his belt.” He went on to tell us that in preparation for this fight, “ I took time to prepare and put in daily roadwork and sparring at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, working day in and day out with my trainer, Hector Roca.” It is Mrkanovic’s dream to present Roca, who turns 80 on the Friday just before the bout, with the WBA belt as a present.
Consistent with the tireless work ethic he is known for, Mrkanovic compliments his training with Roca at Gleason’s by working with trainer Greg Ardon at Ardon Sweet Science Gym. Mrkanovic has been working with Ardon for quite some time and says that, “he’s helped me prepare for all of my fights and, regardless of the obstacle, always has a positive outlook and pushes me to the limit.”
Although his last fight, in December at Tyson’s Playground in Virginia, ended in a victory by TKO, Armin still finds it hard to come to grips with the outcome of his fight in West Virginia where he lost an unpopular decision to Josh Himes. Although he’s tried to seek a rematch and has even offered Himes, to no avail, “a first class ticket to wherever we would fight and a steak dinner at a restaurant of his choice”. He told us that he’s, “put that behind me and moved on to bigger and better things.”
A man with solid principles and who holds his friends and supporters in high regard, Mrkanovic said he wanted to recognize, “last but not least Don Saxby, a trainer and friend, one of the last good men standing in the boxing world, who had a big role and influence in getting me this title fight and helping me prepare for it. Plus, thanks to all my brothers and training partners at Gleason’s Gym and Ardon Sweet Science who have been giving me their 100% effort in preparing me for this fight. I appreciate the hard sparring sessions.”
One of the things that surprised us was Armin’s recent social media post of his being featured on the label of a special edition Gatorade bottle. The surprise was that the photo appearing on the label was none other than the one taken by this MetroSports Magazine photographer when we first covered him at a 2011 bout at the Aviator sports complex in Brooklyn. We intend to continue following the career of this accomplished boxer and New York City business owner who runs the Healthy Me restaurant in Astoria Queens. If the Healthy Me menu has anything to do with Armin’s success as an athlete, we’d recommend your stopping by.
We look forward to reporting on a win this Sunday and send our Happy Birthday wishes to Hector Roca.
Left: Photo Credit (c) Warren Rosenberg
"I Want To Give My Sincere Thanks To Hector Roca, Greg Ardon, Don Saxby
and all my Sparing partners and friends "you know who you are"
For Getting Me Ready And Believing In Me
We Have Worked Hard
We Put The Miles In,
We Did The Road Work
We Bleed And Had Fun
We Are Ready To Go Get What's Ours
The Rest Is In God's Hands
Hocu Da se Zahvalim Trenerima
Hector Roca Greg Ardon Don Saxby
Sto su me spremili I vjerovali u mene
Spremili Smo Se Dobro
Ostalo je U Alahovim Rukama
Above: Hector Roca at work at Gleason's Gym. Photo Credit Warren Rosenberg