Eric Lucas (Photo by Annie Bigras, Pure Perception)
MONTREAL, Que. — Eric Lucas first raised the WBC world middleweight championship belt over his head in July 2001, and managed to hold on to the boxing title for two years. But when his time as a professional fighter came to an end in 2010, it was time to look for a new career.
At first, he ran a dairy. Then a café in Estrie. The idea of entering the trucking industry came after that.
“I have always loved driving. I often drove to Florida for family vacations. When I lived in Drummondville, I loved taking to the road to train in Montreal. I thought that trucking must be fun,” he recalls.
The thought of spending months at school made him hesitate at first. Rather than training at CFTR – the government-run training school — he obtained a learner’s permit and went to work for a friend at GLB Transport and Logistics in Granby, Que. And for three months, he joined an experienced driver making LTL deliveries to communities like Sherbrooke, Coockshire, and Coaticook in the Eastern Townships.
It taught him that he didn’t want to handle partial loads.
“I wanted to go a long way and not be stopped everywhere,” he says. “But it was a great way to learn, with a very experienced person from the trucking industry.”
“I immediately loved driving a truck,” he adds. “I waited far too long for nothing. I should have gone into trucking much faster.”
Once he had a licence in hand, he wrote a letter to three longhaul companies including Trans-West Group, where he has worked for the last few months. “I saw the president, Real Gagnon, explain his business model on a TV show and it really interested me,” he explains, referring to one of the deciding factors. “The strength of Trans-West is that you make your schedule.” The only requirement is to do a minimum of two trips per month.
“That’s one of the things that attracted me to Trans-West – flexible schedules for truckers. You do your business, you say when you want to leave. For a guy like me it’s perfect. With boxing, I only had a schedule in the morning. I have never really had schedules for 25 years, from eight to five. It’s impossible for me to do that.”
The work began with training in town, and this January he finally had the chance to live his dream of a longhaul trip.
“I saw myself going the long way, and that’s exactly what I imagined,” he says. “We take to the road. My team driver sleeps behind, and I feel great.”
His goal now is to run at least 200 days per year since his children are grown. Besides, his wife was used to him traveling throughout his boxing career. That eased the transition.
“I’m only 46. I’m in great shape and I want to enjoy it. My goal of semi-retirement in five or six years is to continue driving for a long time. Everyone is in a good place at home. It’s time for me to do it.”