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Bezanson Athletes From The Past: Featuring Daren Zenner

Daren’s family, the Johnston’s, arrived in the Bezanson area in 1912. Daren, born on May 30, 1971 at Grande Prairie, is the oldest son of Wanda Zenner. He has two brothers, Craig and Barry.

Daren completed kindergarten through Grade 9 at the Bezanson Consolidated School before going on to attend High School at Sexsmith. He, along with his brothers, participated in a variety of sports; track and field, volleyball, basketball, fastball and hockey. While playing hockey, Daren spent a great deal of time in the penalty box for fighting. Consequently, his grandfather Willis Johnston, who had boxed in the Army and recognized Daren’s talent, suggested that boxing may be a more compatible sport for him to participate in. Daren had found his sport of choice; therefore, a small garage was turned into a boxing gym for practice. He was trained by Clarence Wesloski in Grande Prairie and had his first match in the George Dawson Inn in Dawson Creek when he was 14.

In 1988, Daren won a gold medal in boxing at the Alberta Winter Games that were held in Red Deer following which, Daren moved to Edmonton where he trained at the Panther Gym alongside Ken Lakusta who was the Canadian Champion at that time.

It wasn’t long before Daren decided that a move to the USA would be advantageous for his career. He, therefore, moved to Dallas, Texas where he was trained and coached by Curtis Cokes who was the welterweight champion from 1966-69. Once he was 18, Daren decided to turn professional and moved to Las Vegas where he won his pro-debut fight at the Dunes Hotel against Entrgue Perez from Mexico on July 2, 1990. Shortly thereafter in 1991, he made the move to New York where he would live, train and fight for many years.

In October 1994, Daren became the USBA Regional Super Middleweight Champion in a bout against Adam Garland held at the Trump Taj Maha Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. In October 1995, Daren became the Westchester USBA and NY State Super Middleweight Champion in a match against Tyrone Frazer (nephew of former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier).

Daren fought many battles over the years and amassed a record of 33 fights; won 27 of which 19 were knockouts including Adam Garland and Norman Bell, 2 draws and 4 losses. The biggest event of Daren’s boxing career was a bout for the World Title in the Light Heavyweight Division against the undefeated and undisputed world champion, Dariusz Michalczewski in Hamburg, Germany in December 1997. However, the bout was stopped at the end of the 6th round by the doctor due to cuts.

Daren retired from boxing in 2000, purchased a home in an area known as Long Island and moved his family from the Bronx. He embarked upon a new career as a mortgage broker and real-estate agent private investor where he bought and flipped residential and commercial properties. He married and raised a family of four daughters; Francesca, Amanda, Christy and Danielle.

Daren eventually thought that New York winters were too much like Canadian winters and moved to Florida when he semi-retired. He still works within the real-estate industry and still has a large following of New York boxing fans.

Daren’s boxing picture is hung on the “Wall of Fame” at the New York State Athletic Commission Building, where all the champions are honored. He has trained and has been in the company of some of the greatest talents in the boxing industry – Sugar Ray Leonard, Buster Douglas, Mike Tyson, Roger Mayweather, Arturo Gatti and Evander Holyfield to name a few. In his retirement, he is writing the first draft of his life-story that will include some very famous names that will surprise and entice you. The preliminary title is “From Bezanson to the Bronx – Daren Zenner With and Amongst Champions”; a book that will certainly make for a very interesting read.

Daren is a very talented athlete whose skills and accomplishments will be talked about and praised by local residents for years to come. He has always been proud to call Bezanson home.

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Written by Wanda Zenner – August 2019