Raised by his grandparents and aunts, the 12 year old Virgil finally made it to Canada four years after his mother emigrated from their home in Suriname, South America to further her education. Due to complications with a visa, Virgil had to stay four years longer.
Barrow now calls Etobicoke, on the west side of Toronto, home. His office is the padded floor of a boxing ring at the Kingsway Boxing Club. He is a head coach at the gym and though it is his work, it gives him much more satisfaction that his past information technology background.
He only just found out his great grandfather was a Samurai, so his love of the sweet science and a fighter's disciple must flow through in the blood. In addition to Japanese, he is also a mix of African, Portuguese, Chinese and German. Barrow is a man of the world.
Barrow is a quiet man, not given to outbursts or trash talking. He coaches his students and fighters by encouragement, example and an understated power and intensity.
Virgil once had a deaf client confined to a wheelchair. He was impressed by the man's courage and will to learn. Virgil had to change the way he taught and communicated with the student. He says the experience he says made him a much better coach.
VIRGIL FUN FACT: With his gleaming smile, Virgil says many would never know that he is actually fluent in Dutch. Not surprising given Suriname was originally colonized by the Netherlands.
|PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN|