Fred at work

   A biography of Fred Roy
 Athlete, organizer and individual.
by Debbie Roy

 

          February 15, 1952, Fred Roy was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada. He was raised on the family farm in the French/Canadian community of Domremy, Saskatchewan, along with his 7 brothers and 4 sisters. Growing up in a humble background, Fredís parents, Roger and Florence raised their family deriving their income from mixed farming, lumber and logging camps. Hard work with little reward was nothing new to the family clan, but still they basked in good health and great fun with the little they had. Fred, fluent in both English and French, graduated from the local school in Domremy. Like most young people at that time, secondary education was not an option and so he headed straight to work in his fatherís local bush camps and then on to the mines of Thompson, Manitoba, Canada, where he toiled in the INCO mines for nickel ore. After a year of doing this work he went onto road construction, running heavy equipment, building roads into the north country of Canada. He even purchased a motorcycle and pursued his private pilotís license. There was a lot of work available in those years of 1969 to late 70ís. During those growing up years Fred met Debbie Bremner, with whom he stayed in very close contact. After returning from the North Country and working a 6-month stint as driver salesman for a petroleum company and then 2 years for a meat packing plant, Fred and Debbie were married in 1973 and raised a family of 2 boys Christopher and Jason and a girl, Meagan. Fred went onto drive tractor-trailer for a cattle company and in 1975 he started his own business in the logging industry, running three bush camps and heavy equipment to go with it. Four tractor-trailers hauled their product to the local mills. In the late 80ís, Fred sold out the business and in 1990 he started working for Weyerhaeuser Canada, one of the worldís largest pulp, paper and lumber companies in the world. He works there today as a Maintenance Supervisor.

            That is quite a trail to follow, as we list off Fredís many occupations, but there are several things that stand out during this sojourn, the very physical work that was done in many of the activities and the constant planning and executing of these plans. During his growing years, Fred participated in every sport available to him, excelling in most but not being a standout in any particular one. His physical strength far surpassed his physical stature and it was only a natural migration to armwrestling. Coming from a large family, it was easy to find someone to armwrestle against and his older brothers thought it was great fun to set up the unsuspecting in the local bars for free drinks against the smaller Roy kid.

            In February of 1979, at the local Prince Albert Winter Festival, a local chiropractor, Dr. Reg Martsinkiw, thought it would be great fun to have an armwrestling tournament included in the festival. Heíd heard of some pretty tough armwrestlers in Alberta and contacted them. These gentlemen were John Miazdzyk and Tony Senger. Dr. Reg had them come out and organize the tournament, in which Fred entered and proceeded to get two 3rd place finishes. Nonetheless he was hooked. He talked with John for hours, asking all kinds of questions about the ins and outs of armwrestling. There were no local tournaments in Saskatchewan, so, Fred traveled to Alberta to attend Johnís tournaments, where he continued to get beat by individuals who were not as strong as he was. Debbie traveled with him as much as was possible, especially with a growing family. She encouraged him to get something going locally, so Fred founded the Saskatchewan ArmWrestling Association (SAWA) and he began promoting armwrestling within the province. It didnít take long to get a pretty big following through out the province and later in that same year, Dr. Reg and Fred got together and planned the North American Armwrestling Championship. Wow! What a success this was! They had quite a few Americans up from the northern states and Canadians from across Canada, East and West. Now Fred became involved on the National scene, traveling to where the bigger tournaments were and promoting the smaller ones, always looking for new armwrestling talent. John Miazdzyk, who was the president of the Canadian Armwrestling Federation (CAWF) at the time, asked Fred if he were interested in helping to run the CAWF. Fred threw his name into the circle and he became the Vice-President of the West CAWF.  The year of 1979 was a very busy and important year and that same year, John Miazdzyk hosted the very first World Armwrestling Championship in Weytaskwin Alberta, Canada. Four countries were represented, Canada, United States. India and Brazil. The world really didnít know at the time that this was to be the catalyst that started the present World Armwrestling Federation with over 70 member countries now! At that time the armwrestling was run on the sitdown style only. In 1985, Fred became a member of Team Canada and they traveled to Mexico City, Mexico. After 2 grueling days of competition, Fred emerged with a gold medal in both arms, left and right. Wow! What a high that was for him and now he wanted to carry on and defend his title. In 1986, Fred went to Las Vegas after winning the right to participate in the Over the Top tournament, which was part of the movie with Sylvester Stallone. He wanted the Worlds again! The 1986 worlds were to be in India, but unfortunate events in that country kept the other countries out so it didnít happen as planned. The 1987 Worlds were in London, England, where Fred experienced his best tournament ever, although he only finished with a silver in both left and right. Now he began getting a little more involved in the politics of armwrestling as it was getting quite busier and John needed help. In 1988, they went to Sweden, where Fred finished 3rd in both left and right and he represented Canada on the WAF board, as John had taken ill. In 1989, a very tragic event threatened to upset armwrestling, not only on the National level but the World level, when John Miazdzyk passed away from a brain tumor. At the Western Canadian Nationals that year (up to this point there had always been several National championships which created some confusion as to who was the actual national champion), Fred was elected to replace John Miazdzyk as the Canadian leader. Team Canada headed for Greece, where Fred became a Vice-president of WAF replacing the late John Miazdzyk. Fred competed in the open tournament but his duties were taking its toll and Fred finished 3rd once again. He had to make his mind up to either stay competing or to get involved more heavily in the politics of armwrestling. He decided to continue to being involved in armwrestling through the refereeing of the sport and in building a better structure to the main body of the sport. Back in Canada, Fred took to his new post of CAWF President with a vengeance. He traveled to the eastern part of Canada and after meeting with all the shakers and the movers of armwrestling there, he explained his vision of there being only one National tournament in Canada. Many thought this to be a pipe dream and doubted that it would work. Fred told them, let us not rush into it, but let us have only two National tournaments, one in the east and one in the west. The top one from each class from each tournament will become Team Canada. They did this for two years, but then Fred said, " The worlds are getting better every year, but yet we still donít send our best. For example, our first place winner could perhaps be beat by your third place finisher or vice versa and therefore we do not have our best on the world team." After more debate and some concessions, the CAWF became united as one and for the last 10 years, they have been having a single Nationals with a dramatic improvement in their showing at the Worlds.

            In 1990, Fred went to the Worlds in Houston, Texas, USA. There he refereed at the championship and participated in the General Assembly. There were some conflict with some of the delegates and it seemed a rift was starting to form in the WAF and Fred was destined to be involved. The WAF was growing quite fast and other forces were entering the playing field, trying to capitalize on the growth. In 1991, the WAF was in Israel for that yearís championship. Because of personal commitments at home, Fred did not go. In 1992, the Worlds made their stop in Geneva, Switzerland. This seemed to be the beginning of the end for the WAF that most people knew. General Assemblies were not very productive and Fred was growing tired of the egos that were running WAF at the time. The very democracy that the WAF was founded on was violated to the extreme during the election process. The President and Gen-Sec at that time duped member countries into signing a blank sheet of paper, when asked what it was for, they were told it was an attendance roster. Canada and several other progressive countries were not asked to sign, nor shown the paper. At the top of this sheet the duo wrote in after the fact, that all the below signed showed unanimous support for these two people to continue on as President and General Secretary and therefore an election was not necessary. Fred was very disappointed in these people. He tried to get a North American Armwrestling Federation (NAAF) going that year, but the same people who had violated the democratic process in WAF became involved there as well and the NAAF became merely a shell. In 1993, the Worlds came back to Canada, in which Fred participated again as referee and WAF delegate for Canada. He also wrote the NAAF constitution that year, trying once again to get it going. He got some co-operation from the American Armwrestling Association (AAA) who appointed Ray Darling to the NAAF Board of Directors. Between the two of them and in order to get going, upon mutual consent, Fred was to serve as president for a two year term and then Ray would take over for two years and then they hoped to have a general election to have new people involved. In 1994, Sweden once again hosted the WAF Worlds. That year Fred chaired the General Assembly and some progress was made. During the past several years, each Worlds had been alternating, one year sit down style and the following year stand up style. The sit down style was becoming very cumbersome and hard to referee properly. Stand up was fast becoming very popular and was much easier to referee and promote. In the General Assembly Fred introduced the motion and had it debated to eliminate the sit down style completely from the curriculum of the WAF championship. A majority vote changed the way of doing tournaments and stand up was to be the only style promoted on the World circuit. In 1994, Fred was asked by then President of WAF, Bob OíLeary and General secretary of WAF, Barij Baran Das to go to Moscow and attend the Golden Bear tournament. Once there he was to contact new members. This was a prestigious event at which some very high profile armwrestling leaders would be attending who were not part of WAF at the time. These included Mr. Dave Devoto, USA, Mr. Leonard Harkless, USA, Mr. Mitsuo Endo, Japan and others. Arranged by Mr. Igor Akhmedshin, Fred presented his pitch on WAF in front of the Russian Olympic Committee and all others that were present. The results were very successful and WAF came away a winner with newly acquired members. At this point and in talking to Mr. Devoto and Mr. Harkless, Fred asked them why they had not joined forces with the AAA and become one National body in the United States. They told him they had asked but all their ideas and proposals had been rejected at the time and that they were basically told they were not wanted. Fred thought this to be very odd, especially when WAF was supposed to be trying to spread armwrestling and get as many organizations into the fold of WAF as possible. With this information in hand and on behalf of the NAAF organization, Fred approached the AAA and asked if it were possible to affiliate all entities in the country of the United States under one National banner without each organization losing its original identity, much as they had done in Canada. No answer back!

            In 1995 the WAF Worlds went to Brazil. More controversy ensued, not only on the world level but on the continental level as well. The board of directors of the AAA took Fred aside and told him to keep his nose out of USA armwrestling business and that the AAA was the only organization recognized to represent armwrestling to WAF in the United States. Fred asked them what about all the talent that was being left out of the loop, what about the following all the other organizations had, would they not be interested in acquiring those athletes? Were not the proposals put forward by NAAF worth debating with all interested parties? No, no, no, were the answers that came back! Fred persisted and he was threatened to be thrown out of the organization if he continued.

            On the World level, the refereeing division was running into problems with constant battling for power and egos were tripping out. What would it all come to, wondered Fred? Who cared who had refereed more than the other, as long as they had quality refereeing.

            In 1996 the WAF Worlds went back to the USA. Problems were getting more intense. Now, suddenly, the then WAF leaders said Fred could not participate as a referee, although he had done so for the last 6 years, stating WAF policy that had never been in the constitution before. They also asked him to give the NAAF presidency over to Ray Darling, delegating him to vice Ėpresident of NAAF. Fred realized that they were trying to force him out by any way possible, even changing policy without majority consent or debate. His push for a better-structured WAF was not being met with open arms. The head hunting had started. Mr. David Shead from England was expelled from WAF on trumped up charges and exaggerated lies.

            The year of 1997 took the WAF back to India, again under controversial circumstances. Upon arrival in Guwahatti City, State of Assam, Fred was registered into a hotel away from the host hotel. Out of site out of mind so it seemed to say.  He receives a visit from Barij Baran Das who delivers him papers of charges against Fred on behalf of WAF. Again more trumped up charges and the head hunting continued. He made his way to the host hotel and handed out the packages on behalf of Canada who were proposing to host the Worlds for 1998. He then made arrangements through an interpreter to take him to an individual who had a typewriter. Once there Fred answered all of the charges against him, point for point and then he found a place to have them photocopied. The following day was the Annual Congress meeting. Again they were playing silly games, giving Fred a hard time about getting his pass to get into the meeting. The president of WAF stops him before he enters and shows him papers that were later discerned as forged, that the president of NAAF, who was not present at these worlds, had taken Fred out of the position of vice-president and appointed someone else into that position, therefore taking Fred off the board of WAF. When Fred challenged the authenticity of these papers, even if the whole scenario was against the NAAF constitution, he entered the meeting hall to take his place at head of the table. Sitting in his place was the alleged replacement for the North America delegation. An armed guard came to him and pushed him out of the way and he was asked to sit elsewhere, which he did. He conducted himself in a gentlemanly fashion in spite of the way he was being treated by these people who were totally out of control. When the time came to vote for the next yearís Worlds no other country had any proposal except for Canada. Fred passed out the remaining world packages to the countries that had not received them as yet. It was voted on unanimously to accept Canadaís bid. Then it came time to take care of other business, the charges that had been presented to Fred were read and the execution began immediately without even asking if Fred had any rebuttal to the charges. Acting quickly with the help of the rest of the Canadian delegation, the rebuttal papers were passed out, answering all the charges against him. This was a move that took the board by surprise, because they did not expect that Fred would have had the time to do all of this. When individuals demanded that Fred have the time to answer to the charges and explain his rebuttal, the General Secretary came out with this bit of wisdom "A majority decision has no place in this Congress." The board pulled in their horns and said that they would take the time to read the rebuttal (instead of doing it in Congress and having a membership vote) and come back with a decision. The next day is the start of the tournament. Now the WAF has a problem. They do not have enough referees, so Fred is asked to referee, even though the year before he wasnít allowed. Rather then point out all of the very apparent deficiencies in their strategy, Fred agreed to do it so that some of the credibility of a World championship might be saved.

            Upon leaving Guwahatti City, Fred runs into General Osman from Egypt at the airport. In conversation Fred asks General Osman,  "So we will see you at the World championship in Canada next year?"  He calmly replies, "No, I am returning home to prepare to host the World championships in Egypt next year as I was asked by Mr. Das and OíLeary to do so."  Fred replies, " Were we not at the same meeting where the membership voted unanimously to come to Canada for the Worlds next year?" "Yes" he replied, " but apparently there has been some changes since you have not given the required sanction fee." Fred goes to his luggage and checks the inside pocket of his suit and finds the sealed envelope from the bid committee in his suit. In all the commotion he had not given it to them. Upon arrival in Calcutta, he sends the check to Mr. Das via registered mail, which he had to sign for to receive it. Mr. Das then claims that Canada was breaking the law because it was illegal to give post-dated checks. He is now in contact with the host committee in Canada. Now Fred arrives back in Canada and begins contacting Mr. OíLeary and Mr. Das to find out the decision of the board after reviewing the rebuttal. Three months later, they return a decision that they had expelled Fred from WAF for life and that the Worlds were going to Egypt for 1998. Knowing of all the bogus activity that had surrounded all of this, Fred went back to the membership and sent out a call for a vote of non-confidence against Bob OíLeary and Barij Baran Das. The charges were explicit, based on fact and through the only article in the constitution that could accommodate this action. The vote for non-confidence was to take place at the World championships in Canada. Canada went ahead with championships because it was not the membership that had changed the location, it was a couple of scared individuals. The vote went ahead at the Congress meeting and Das and OíLeary were removed from their posts and an election was held to replace them. There was a majority quorum at the Congress Meeting and the votes stood as valid. The interim President was Fred Roy, Canada and General Secretary was Willy Deneumostier, Belgium until election year 2000, at which time a new election would take place.

            The 1999 edition of the World Championship were in Tokyo, Japan. Although the controversy had created upheaval in the world of armwrestling, some excellent progress was made. There was actually some real work being done in Congress. Fred was pleased with all that took place, the defeats and the victories, because he knew that the WAF was finally on the right track. Progress would be made. A referee training program was introduced the year before and the decision had been made to run the clinic at every championship. Changes were made in the constitution to stop the kind of abuse and dictatorship they had experienced from the former administration from happening again.

The millennium edition of the World championship went to Finland. The year 2000 was filled with victories for Fred, which overshadowed the defeats. Great strides again were taken in making the WAF championships more efficient and meetings more productive.

2001, WAF was in Poland, gaining more strength and momentum as democracy and a positive outlook continued to prevail in the World of armwrestling. More countries joined the WAF.

The United States has the 2002 championships and it is promising to be a tremendous tournament. World armwrestling unity is a big topic and the armwrestlers of the world want it to happen. These are the people who want to see armwrestling raised to that plain where it belongs, the goal shared by so many from so many different countries, ultimately the Olympics.

   Fred is proud to be associated with all of them and to have been a part of their past and the future!

 

Editors comment:

 It is very rare to meet an individual like Fred Roy.  I first met him in Moscow, Russia in 1994.  I was immediately impressed by his honesty and strong leadership abilities.  He is truly our leader for unity in the sport and he will ultimately take us to the Olympic games.  Thank you Fred for all your hard work and dedication to the sport of armwrestling.

 Dave Devoto

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