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'We didn't give up': Aurora immigrants open new gym, fighting way to top of boxing

Former Iran champion boxer Tara Jokar Deris said she wants to represent Canada on the world stage
2022 04 29 - Aurroa Boxer - JQ
Couple Ardeshir Arjomandkhah and Tara Jokar Deris have opened a new gym in Aurora.

Tara Jokar Deris said moving to Canada in 2018 was a challenging experience.

The 31-year-old boxer said she was a national champion in Iran but left over rules around her coach and husband Ardeshir Arjomandkhah. She said it was a difficult experience, working multiple jobs to get by and support their daughter.

But now, the pair are getting back into competition and their own business. After opening K.O. Club Martial Arts Fitness in March at 150 Hollidge Blvd., Deris is now readying to represent the province at a Calgary competition in May. She said they kept working out every day to get to this point. 

“We try so hard. We work for two gyms, day and night,” she said. “We didn’t give up. Every single day was a bad day. But every single day, we did our workout. Whatever happens, we just constantly do it because it was our life.”

Deris said she grew up athletic as a horseback rider in Iran. But she sought a new sport in her 20s and settled on boxing. 

She then met her coach and future husband Arjomandkhah, who she said was renowned. With his help, she set out to compete, earning provincial and national accolades.

“Boxing became my life,” she said. “We were able to create our own gym (in Iran) after that.”

“She has a lot of potential for the fighting,” Arjomandkhah said. “When she loved something, she’s doing her best.” 

But rules preventing men from coaching women made things difficult for them, they said. They said it threatened their gym and eventually caused them to immigrate to Canada.

Deris said they began to garner a following at the area gyms they went to, as people saw how they worked out and wanted pointers. She said that spurred them to work towards starting their gym again, where they have attracted customers from Newmarket and Aurora alike.

“We didn’t have any money to start. We just had the support of our clients,” she said. “They helped us to build this gym.”

“We wanted to start our gym, and this is the biggest dream in my world and hers,” Arjomandkhah said. “We can’t open our gym back home. It’s so hard, and we can’t do it.”

But Deris said she also wants to compete in boxing nationally. She said she hopes to get citizenship to get onto the national team and compete at the Olympics.

That is something they can now build toward together, with Arjomandkhah by the ringside to help support his wife and pupil.

"I’m so happy about that,” he said. “This is the first time I’m coaching my wife, my love (in competition) … She’s doing a hard workout, and she’s, all the time, looking for the fight.”

“If he wasn’t here, I couldn’t be here,” she said.

Although nationals may wait, she had started at the provincial-level competition and is now preparing to represent the province in a Calgary competition running May 12 to 15.

“Of course, I’d like to win,” she said. “This is the best thing that could happen (two months after) we open our gym, that we can get our first win.”

The couple said they hope to continue to expand their business as they pursue their competitive goals. Deris said she also gets a lot out of helping others with their fitness.

“That makes us very happy,” she said. “We’re doing something, we’re helping someone.”