About Joseph Leonidas Parisian
Story ran in September 1981 edition of SaskPower HiLines Magazine (?Prince Albert?)
JOE PARISIAN: 140 POUNDS OF DYN-O-MITE.
After hours, anything goes for the SPC caretaker Joe Parisan. For in the marial art of Kung Fu, there's no holding back. Many people in head office know Joe, who, at five-foot-six, is not a big man. When they learn about his skills in Kung Fu and Boxing, they stand back almost imperceptibly, but with noticeable interest. The lines of age in Joe's face belie his slim, muscular build, but even more so do the vibrancy and alertness of his movements and conversation. In 1974, when Joe joined SPC, he found himself with free evening time to pursue the sport of Kung Fu. Since then, he has perfected his skill to the point that he can defend himself in any situation. "It's a nasty sport, with lots of kicking," says 61-year-old Joe, "but it's exciting." Actually, Kung Fu is more than just a sport that promotes physical fitness. Increased mental concentration and self-awareness are two additional benefits accruing to practitioners of the art. When asked about these side benefits of the sport, Joe's catch-by-surprise sense of humour comes through--"Sure people should be more aware of themselves ... especially their waistlines!" Joe keeps his 140-pound body in good shape. He does 125 pushups three times a week. His Kung Fu trainer, a powerful 190-pound man, walks on Joe's stomach to tighten his abdominal muscles. Joe spars with his trainer and others at the club he belongs to, but he hasn't competed for any belts to indicate his level of acheivement. He does it for fun, yet he wouldn't teach his own children the sport. "If you're not good enough, you're going to get in trouble. Besides, they weren't interested," says Joe, referring to his two sons, one of whom lives in Regina, the other in Vancouver. According to Joe, women might do well to learn a few self-defense techniques through Kung Fu, Karate or Tai Kwando. Kung Fu is mainly the art of kicking, Karate uses the hands and Tai Kwando "lets everything go." Joe thinks that maritial arts would give women confidence in their ability to protect themselves and would help them stay in shape. Joe's reputation protects him as much as his skill, especially on the street. And the same was true during his younger years when he was involved in a boxing career. Joe started his pugilistic training at the age of 16. In 1938, he won the Bantamweight (118 lbs.) Championship of Saskatchewan. A year later, Joe fought George Radeau for the Western Canadian Championship. In that bout, he broke his hand in the first round. He fought the remaining four rounds, amateur rules of Joe's day, only to lose by a decision. Over 39 championship fights later, he retired on a winning note. Joe has been extemely lucky when it comes to injuries. All of his facial bones are intact as well as his ribs. But his knarled hands, both broken at least once give away his boxing years--he shows them with a bit of pride. As can be imagined, Joe places a high value on physical fitness. "People should exercise regularly," he says, "just five minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. But I don't believe in jogging--use a skipping rope instead. Or do a fast run for half a mile--it builds stamina." Running is the sport Joe teaches the young man to whom he is a Big Brother. But he used to teach boxing to boys in Saskatoon. One of his students became Canadian Amatueur Featherweight Champion. Joe is proud of his former students and keeps their newspaper clippings and championship photos. When he retires a few years from now, Joe won't stop being active. Already he has plans for a creative retirement--he intends to establish a small office cleaning business and hire teenage boys in Regina "to get them off the street". "They need training," Joe says. "The custodial business wil provide them with jobs." And will he continue to teach what he seems to enjoy most? "Of course. I want to teach them to run and to box. And I'd like to teach Kung Fu." For a man who first got into the boxing ring at 16 and who can still sprint half a mile every day. life certainly hasn't lost any of its spark.