NICHOLVILLE -- After 28 years, Nicholville mixed martial arts hall of fame inductee and instructor Al "Sonny" Duquette announced his retirement.
In a statement released by Duquette he offered praise to his students and said goodbye to mixed martial arts as he begins his new career as director of the SUNY Canton Police Academy and a member of a Syracuse-based security consulting and private investigation firm.
Duquette celebrated his retirement with the promotion of five of his students to the rank of black belt.
“These final five have put in a tremendous amount of time and dedication to learn Mixed Martial Arts (cage fighting) here. Some of them have seven years in. I have taught over 4,000 students and it is not easy to make this rank at my dojo, they have definitely earned the absolute right to be called a Black Belt," he said.
Promoted to Black Belt were Todd Winch of Jay; a N.Y.S. D.O.T. employee, Jacob White of Brushton: a SUNY Potsdam student, Ross Dixson of Potsdam; a SLC Sheriff’s Office Correctional Officer, Seth Filiatrault of Colton; a SUNY Canton Police Officer and Craig Brennan of Massena; a Alcoa Supervisor. 2005 World Champion and Malone Border Patrol Customs Agent Matt ‘Mayhem’ Johnson of Malone also attended the ceremony.
"I wanted my very first and my very last Black Belts here for my final promotions," Duquette said of Johnson's presence.
Duquette said he looks forward to his new careers, but will always remember his work as an instructor.
“It’s hard to walk away from all these martial arts students. It was a family atmosphere here. Many of my students went into law enforcement careers, medicine, the military; and have gone on to be tremendous individuals, pillars of their society. I am very proud. When I announced the closing of my Dojo I had so many students reach out to me and tell me how I had changed their lives, how they were going down a wrong path or how they were a low point in their lives when they came to my Dojo and how it all turned around for them, or how I gave them a chance when others wouldn’t. I was dumbfounded listening to all of this as I never knew, I never suspected. Many students told me that I was a father figure in their lives and thanked me for teaching them about life and pushing them to make ‘good decisions’. This teared me up; I thought I was just teaching them martial arts, I did not realize it was that big of an impact. So with a heavy heart, I walk away, it’s time; my body is telling me it’s time. I will miss the student’s, but I will not miss the pain that comes with the sport of MMA. It’s time for a new chapter, but these students will always be special to me, more than they will ever know. It has been a terrific ride,” Duquette said.
Duquette said he will pursue a new career as director of the SUNY Canton Police Academy.
“It’s time for a new chapter in my life. I’ve just recently been offered job opportunities that I simply cannot turn down and it’s time to move on. The long time SUNY Canton College Police Academy Director has retired and I have been hired to take over his job duties and I look forward to running that police academy from January through June annually. I retired from the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office as a Detective Sergeant in August of last year and there is no doubt that this is a great fit for everyone as I have a lot to offer these new cadets, and having taught at the academy for the past 11 years, I know I can make a positive influence in these kids lives, I am excited to share my knowledge with these new recruits. I went 20 plus years without one personnel complaint, I want to show the new officers how to treat the public with respect and to focus on solving crimes for the people of their communities,” Duquette said.
Duquette said he will also be working armed security for AMRIC, a Syracuse-based security and private investigation firm.
“I have also been recently hired by a retired F.B.I. agent out of Syracuse who owns a security consultant & private investigation firm called AMRIC. It’s a group of retired F.B.I. Agent’s who hire high level retired investigators around the state to work a multitude of areas to include fraud, computer forensics, litigation, witness interviewing, surveillance and working for local attorneys who have reached out to there office for assistance. For the months of July through December I will be covering Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Franklin and Clinton Counties. Due to my background as a former S.W.A.T. Team member and martial artist, they will also be using me throughout the state for armed security of their Fortune 500 clients. I am going to be real busy and I want to focus primarily on work and it’s time to move on,” said Duquette.