Wednesday, 02 April 2014 20:00

George Chuvalo

George (Louis) " Boom Boom" Chuvalo was Canadian heavyweight champion as both an amateur and a professional, and twice fought for versions of the professional world's heavyweight title.

Chuvalo turned professional in 1956, knocking out four opponents in one night to win a heavyweight tournament held by former world's champion Jack Dempsey at Maple Leaf Gardens, April 26, 1956.

George is best known for his two fights against Muhammad Ali. He went the distance both times, in each case losing the decision by a wide margin on the scorecards. The first fight, on March 29, 1966 would have been for Ali's world title but boxing politics caused it to be staged as "a heavyweight showdown" instead, although it was scheduled for and went the fifteen round championship distance. "He's the toughest guy I ever fought", said Ali of Chuvalo after the fight. Ali's cornerman,Angelo Dundee, said, "He never stopped coming on ... you've got to admire a man like that." The second Ali fight was in 1972 and went twelve rounds, with Ali winning an easy decision. It was the last major fight of Chuvalo's career.

His biggest victories were a seventh-round knockout of contender Jerry Quarry December 12, 1969, and an eleventh-round knockout of contender Doug Jones on October 2, 1964. Chuvalo was the number one contender for the British Empire heavyweight title for many years but champion Henry Cooper did not fight him.

He was never knocked down in ninety-three professional fights, including bouts with Joe Frazier and George Forman, between 1956 and 1979. He is often considered to have had the greatest chin in the history of boxing.

Chuvalo became Canadian amateur heavyweight champion in May 1955, defeating Winnipeg's Peter Piper with a first-round KO. Chuvalo finished his amateur career with a 16-0-0, all by KO within four rounds.

George was born in Ontario, September 12th, 1937 and grew up in The Junction district of west Toronto. While a student at Humberside Collegiate, he became one of the best-known amateur boxers in Toronto, fighting out of the Earlscourt Athletic Club.

Chuvalo was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 and the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997. He was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1998 and was awarded a star on Canadian Walk of Fame in 2005.

Published in 1995 Inductees
Sunday, 23 March 2014 20:00

Lennox Lewis

Lennox Claudius Lewis (born September 2, 1965) in West Ham, London, England to Jamaican-born parents. Lewis moved to Kitchener, Ontario, Canada in 1977 at the age of 12. At the age of 18, Lewis represented Canada as a super heavyweight at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He advanced to the quarter-finals, where he lost a decision to American Tyrell Biggs, the eventual gold medalist. Lewis chose not to turn professional after the Olympics, and instead fought four more years as an amateur, hoping for a second chance to win a gold medal. Finally in Seoul, South Korea for the 1988 Summer Olympics he achieved his goal. In the gold medal match, Lewis defeated future world champion Riddick Bowe by a second round technical knockout (TKO).

He captured the European heavyweight title late in 1990 against Frenchman Jean Maurice Chanet. In his next fight in March 1991, Lewis won the British title against the undefeated world ranked Gary Mason, then won the Commonwealth title in April 1992 against Derek Williams.

On 31 October 1992, Lewis knocked out Canadian Donovan "Razor" Ruddock in two rounds for the number one contender's position in the WBC world rankings. At the time it was Lewis' most impressive win, and established him as one of the world's best heavyweights. On 14 December 1992, after Bowe refused to face Lewis, the WBC declared Lewis its champion, making him the first world heavyweight titleholder from Britain in the 20th century.

Lewis successfully defended the belt three times. In one of the strangest fights in boxing history, Oliver McCall refused to box Lewis in the fourth and fifth rounds, then began crying in the ring, forcing the referee to stop the fight and award Lewis the victory and the title.

Lewis went on to fight then IBF and WBF title holder Evander Holyfield twice. The first match resulted in a draw and second match with Lewis winning by decision, earning him the title of undisputed heavyweight champion of the World. On June 8, 2002, Lewis defended his title against Mike Tyson. He was knocked out in the eighth by a right hook from Lewis. After the fight was over, George Foreman declared "He [Lewis] is, no doubt, the best heavyweight of all time."

Published in 2012 Inductees
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 20:00

Sammy Luftspring

Sammy Luftspring was a Jewish Canadian boxer. A former Canadian Welterweight Champion and highly ranked in the Welterweight class during his career, Luftspring was forced to retire from the sport due to an eye injury. He was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.

Luftspring was born and raised in a low class residential area of Toronto. It was home to many Eastern European (primarily Jewish) and Italian immigrants. He began his boxing career in 1932 out of Brunswick Talmud Torah, a local Toronto Jewish community and recreational centre. Throughout his career, he wore a Magen David on his trunks. Over the next four years, he fought 105 times (attaining a record of 100-5) and captured Golden Gloves Tournaments in various weight classes ranging from bantamweight to welterweight.

By 1933, he was the Ontario amateur lightweight champion and regarded as one of the best amateur boxing talents.

In 1933, Luftspring was involved in the infamous Toronto Christie Pits Riots. A riot occurred at Christie Pits Park following tensions that occurred during a series of amateur softball games. Fighting broke out between a group of young Jewish and Italian men and the local Swastika Club, a group of Canadian Nazi sympathizers.

1936 Berlin Olympics Boycott

Luftspring was named to Canada's Olympic team for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. At the encouragement of his parents, he refused to attend the Games in protest over the poor treatment Jews were receiving in Nazi Germany. He made his views on the subject public in a letter to the Toronto Globe. In the letter, he protested that "the German government was treating its Jewish brothers and sisters worse than dogs". He even went as far as to say that "the German government would exterminate Jews if they had the opportunity". Luftspring and another boxer, Norman "Baby" Yak, attempted to participate in an alternate event being hosted that summer, the People's Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. The Spanish Civil War broke out prior to the Games' opening ceremonies. The event caused the cancellation of the People's Olympics. By the time Luftspring found out about the cancellation, he had already reached Dieppe, France. Luftspring, disappointed at not having a chance to compete, returned to Toronto.

Professional career

Luftspring began to box professionally in the fall of 1936. A year later, he fought Gordon Wallace for the Canadian welterweight championship. He lost to Wallace in a 10-round decision.

In 1938, Luftspring knocked out Frank Genovese in the 13th round to win the Canadian welterweight championship. This was Ontario's first-ever scheduled 15-round fight. Luftspring held the Canadian title for two years. That title fight was one of four times Luftspring defeated Genovese in his career. Their rivalry was extremely competitive and one of the dominant storylines of Toronto boxing in the late 1930s. That same year, he was ranked the number three welterweight boxer in the world. He was subsequently offered a chance to fight world champion Henry Armstrong in 1940. In a fight in New York against Steve Belloise, Luftspring was injured. He was thumbed in the eye. The medical diagnosis was a detached retina resulting in significant loss of vision in the eye. The fight was supposed to be a tune up for the championship bout against Armstrong. Luftspring was forced to quit boxing.

Details of his career record are unclear. Different reports have him winning 50 of either 55 or 56 pro bouts. More detailed records list him as 32-8 with 14 knockouts.

Published in 1996 Inductees
Tuesday, 28 April 2015 20:00

Shawn O'Sullivan

Shawn O’Sullivan was crowned the Canadian junior champion in the light-middleweight division by the age of 16. By the early 1980s he was representing Canada abroad and was crowned the World Amateur Champion, as well as Canadian Athlete of the Year, in 1981. He won gold at the 1982 Commonwealth Games and was considered one of the favorites, along with American Frank Tate, in the division at the 1984 Summer Olympics. The Canadian fought Tate in a battle that most spectators, including Tate’s coach, believed that O’Sullivan won.

O’Sullivan turned professional after the Olympic Games and won sixteen of his first seventeen fights, losing only to Simon Brown, a future WBC Welter and Light-Middleweight Champion. He retired in 1997 with a career pro record of 23 (KO16)-5.

Published in 2015 Inductees
Sunday, 23 March 2014 20:00

Tommy Burns

Tommy Burns (June 17, 1881 – May 10, 1955) After starting his boxing career under his real name, Brusso took the Scottish-sounding name of Tommy Burns in 1904.

Although only 5 feet 7 inches tall and about 175 pounds, size did not stop him from becoming the world heavyweight boxing champion. When Burns met Marvin Hart for the heavyweight championship of the world on February 23, 1906, Burns was a 2-1 underdog and the betting was 10-7 that he would not last ten rounds. Burns won, and went on to defend his title eleven times within a period of less than two years.

All previous gloved world champs had been white U.S. Citizens (except for Robert Fitzsimmons, of the United Kingdom), who only defended their titles against other white opponents. Burns, however, travelled the globe, beating the champions of every nation in which boxing was legal at that time, including England, Ireland, France and Australia. Along the way he set records for the fastest knockout (one minute and 28 seconds) and the most consecutive wins by knockout (eight) by a heavyweight champion.

Burns continued to box occasionally after dropping the title. During the First World War he joined the Canadian army, serving as a physical fitness instructor in Canada. Burns was later ordained as a minister in 1948. Burns passed away while visiting a church friend in Vancouver, British Columbia, suffering a heart attack at age 73.

Published in 2012 Inductees