History of Canadian Boxing
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (June 29, 2009)    
When you think of the Canadian boxers you think George Chuvalo. He fought against all the top heavyweights like Ali, Frazier and Foreman. You think of the classic 1958 Yvon Durelle and Archie Moore fight in Montreal. Most recently it’s the influx of the Romanian fighters producing several world champions while most recently a Haitian born world champion all coming to Canada for their opportunities.

In the history of Canadian Olympic boxing from 1920 in Antwerp to 1996 in Atlanta there have been 17
medal winners. In 1920 Bert Schneider won the gold medal at welterweight. Clifford Graham and Georges Prud’Homme won silver while Clarence Newton and Moe Herscovitch won bronze. Only Graham had a winning record as a pro. In 1924 Douglas Lewis won a bronze in the welterweight division and was 21-8-1 as a pro. In 1928 Raymond Smillie won the bronze. In 1932 Horace Gwynne won the gold medal in the bantam division and later became Canadian champ as a pro with a 32-8-2 record. After a 50 year drought Dale Walters took bronze in the bantam division in 1984. Light middleweight Shawn O’Sullivan and heavyweight Willie DeWitt both won silver and had success in the pro ranks. In 1988 heavyweight Lennox Lewis won the gold but went to the UK to win the heavyweight title as a pro. Raymond Downey won a bronze medal. He was 16-2-1 as a pro. Egerton Marcus took a silver losing to future world champion Henry Maske of Germany. He was 17-4-1 as a pro. In 1992 Mark Leduc won a silver medal in the light welter division while taking the Canadian title as a pro with a 4-1 record. Jamaican born, Ontario raised, Chris Johnson lost to future world champion Chris Byrd to earn a bronze medal. He turned pro fighting mostly in the US while ending his career losing to future world champions Reggie Johnson and Antonio Tarver. His
record was 21-3-1 (14). In 1996 Nigerian born and Halifax raised, heavyweight David Defiagbon won a silver medal losing in final to Cuban Felix Savon. He fought his early career in Canada before going to the US winning his first 21 fights before losing to future WBC heavyweight champion Oleg Maskaev and former WBC cruiserweight champion Juan Carlos Gomez ending his career at 21-2 (12).

The following fighters have been some of the Canadian boxers and imports who have helped make their North American fans proud.

TOMMY BURNS (Noah Brusso) was the only Canadian born world heavyweight champion by defeating Marvin Hart in 1906. He made 11 title defenses. He was only stopped once when he lost his title to Jack Johnson. He was born in Hanover, Ontario. His record was 43-5-9 (34).

LENNOX LEWIS He lost in the1984 Olympics to Tyrell Biggs. He was a1987 Silver medalist in the Pan Am Games. In 1988 he won the Olympic gold medal in the super heavyweight division for Canada over Riddick Bowe. It was rumored that after the Olympics Lewis looked for sponsorship to fight in Canada, and no one stepped up, so he went to the UK and made his debut in 1989. His second fight was in the US, while only his sixth and thirteenth in Canada. He won the WBC heavyweight title over Tony Tucker in 1993 and lost it in 1994 (Oliver McCall) only to regain the vacant title in 1997 against McCall. He had 13 defenses finishing his career at 41-2-1 (32) and in June of 2009 was inducted into the IBHOF. He is currently working for HBO.

DONOVAN “RAZOR” RUDDOCK Won the Canadian heavyweight title in 1988. He defeated James “Bonecrusher” Smith, Greg Page and Michael Dokes, all champions, but never fought for the title. He lost to Mike Tyson twice and Tyson said he was the hardest puncher he ever met. He was born in St. Catherine, Jamaica. He debuted in Canada. He lost to Lennox Lewis in a WBC eliminator bout. His final record was 37-5-1 (28).

GEORGE CHUVALO He won the Canadian heavyweight title in 1958. He hails from Toronto. He had wins over contenders Doug Jones, Jerry Quarry, Mike DeJohn, Yvon Durelle, Alex Miteff (2x) and Cleveland Williams. He lost 2 of 3 to fellow Canadian Bob Cleroux. He had losses to contenders Oscar Bonavena and Zora Folley. He lost to champions Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Jimmy Ellis. He also lost to Muhammad Ali (title) in 1966 and 1972 (non-title). His final record was 73-18-2 (64).

TREVOR BERBICK Won Canadian heavyweight title in 1979. He beat John Tate, Greg Page and Pinklon Thomas 1986 for the WBC title. He lost to Mike Tyson in his 1st defense and had losses to Buster Douglas and Hasim Rachman. He was born in Port Anthony, Jamaica, but lived in Montreal. He finished with a 49-11-1 (33) record.

ROBERT CLEROUX He won the Canadian heavyweight title in 1960 over George Chuvalo, winning 2 of 3. He is from Montreal. He beat contenders Roy Harris (2x), Alex Miteff and Cleveland Williams. He lost to Zora Folley (2x) and Mike DeJohn. He finished with a 48-6-1 (38) record.

WILLIE DE WITT He was the 1984 Olympic Silver medalist. He won Canadian title in 1986. In 1988 defeated 1984 Gold medalist Henry Tillman in their rematch. It would be De Witt’s last fight finishing with a 20-1-1 (13) record. He retired becoming a lawyer.

KIRK JOHNSON He is from Nova Scotia. He lost to John Ruiz for the WBA title in 2002 by disqualification in 10 rounds. He was behind by 1 point on two cards but had points taken away by referee Joe Cortez. Another major fight was in 2003 getting crushed by Vitali Klitschko in 2 rounds in a WBC eliminator fight. He had defeated future champion Oleg Maskaev (PABA title), Larry Donald and Lou Savarese (WBO Inter-Continental). He was trained by former welterweight champion Curtis Cokes. His final record was 36-2-1 (26). His last bout was in 2006 with Javier Mora that ended by ND in the 7th round when Johnson suffered a dislocated knee.

BERMANE STIVERNE A Haitian born heavyweight was the Canadian national amateur champion from 2001-2005. He would turn professional in 2005 winning his first 12 fights by knockout before suffering his only loss up until now. His current record is 17-1-1 (16). He has only fought once professionally in Canada.

ADRIAN DIACONU He represented his native Romania in the 2000 Sydney Olympics winning his first two fights. He turned professional in 2001 in Montreal where he now lives. He won the Canadian light heavyweight title in 2005. He defeated Rico Hoye in a WBC eliminator bout in 2007 and Chris Henry for the WBC title in 2008. He recently lost his title to Jean Pascal while currently posting a 26-1 (15) record.

YVON DURELLE The “Fighting Fisherman” from New Brunswick will always be known for his first battle with champion Archie Moore in a 1958 title bout. He had Moore down 3 times in the 1st round and once in the 4th round. Moore came back to drop him 4 times, stopping him in the 11th round. Many call this the “fight of the century”. Durelle also won the Commonwealth title. His final record was 87-23-2 (49).

JACK DELANEY (Ovila Chapdelaine) He is from Quebec. He decisioned the future light heavyweight champion Tommy Loughran. He knocked out future champ Tiger Flowers twice in the same fight. The Flowers corner claimed a fast count and Delaney advised them to continue only to knock Flowers out again. In his first attempt at a title he lost to a previous victim Paul Berlanbach in 1926. In a rubber match he won the title and would retired with a 77-10-2 (44) record.

DONNY “GOLDEN BOY” LALONDE From British Columbia, he won the vacant WBC light heavyweight title in 1987 stopping Eddie Davis 34-5-1. Prior to that he beat Mustafa Hamsho 42-3-2, and made his lone successful defense beating former WBA champion Leslie Stewart 26-2. Lalonde met “Sugar” Ray Leonard at #167 for both his WBC title and the WBC super middleweight title and was stopped. He would get one more title shot losing to Bobby Czyz 39-5 for his WBA title. He retired after losing his last bout to former champion Virgil Hill. His final record was 41-5-1 (33).

EGERTON MARCUS Originally from Guyana, he’s now living in Toronto. He represented Canada in the 1988 Olympics losing to Henry Maske of Germany. He got his rematch losing for the first time in his 15th fight to Maske, 25-0, for the IBF title. As a heavyweight he lost to Ruddock. He finished 17-4-1 (12).

JEAN PASCAL He is from Haiti, now living in Quebec. His lone loss was losing to Carl Froch for the WBC super middleweight title. He won the Canadian and NABF titles. He has defeated Nigerian Kingsley Ikeke 23-2. In June of 2009 he won the WBC light heavyweight title from Adrian Diaconu. His current record is 23-1 (15).

LUCIAN BUTE He is the current IBF super middleweight champion. Originally from Romania, now living in Quebec he has defended his title four times. He won the title stopping Alejandro Berrio 26-4 in October of 2007. This southpaw is unbeaten in 24 bouts winning by knockout 19 times. His bout with Librado Andrade was mostly remembered for Bute getting dropped prior to the bell and barely hanging on for the win.

ERIC LUCAS He was born in Montreal. He won the Canadian super middleweight title in his 11th fight. He failed to win the NABF title from Bryan Brannon, 14-0, suffering his first loss in 20 fights. Somehow, two fights later he is fighting for the WBC light heavyweight title losing to Fabrice Tiozzo, 32-1, in France in 1996. Just five months later he loses to Roy Jones, Jr. for his IBF Super middleweight title being stopped in the 12th and final round. He would go unbeaten in 13 fights including Alex Hilton, when he lost to Glen Catley, 24-3, in a WBC Super middleweight eliminator in 1999. Two fights later he defeats Catley for the vacant WBC title. He has 3 successful defenses before losing to Markus Beyer, 26-1, in Germany in 2003. In his last fight he failed winning the WBA Super middleweight title against Mikkel Kessler, 36-0, in Denmark. His final record was 38-7-3 (14). He is now head of Interbox, his promotional company.

DAVEY HILTON, Sr. He won the Canadian featherweight title in his 6th fight, but could be more famous for his sons. I met Hilton at the home/gym of Cus D’Amato in the early 80’s with his three sons. Unfortunately Stewart, an amateur boxer, died in a motorcycle accident at age 17. Sons, Davey, Jr. and Matthew would become world champions. His first loss came in a non-title bout after winning the Canadian title and in a rematch defense he scored a 1st round knockout. He would go unbeaten in Canadian rings from 1959 to 1969. When on foreign soil his luck would not be as good losing to Terry Spinks and Ralph Charles (UK), Charles Els (RSA), Billy Backus, Louis Rodriguez (USA), Percy Hayles (JAM) and in challenging for the Canadian middleweight title in 1971. His final record was 67-16 (49).

DAVEY HILTON, Jr. He won the WBC Super middleweight champion from Dingaan Thobela, 40-7-2, in December of 2000. He would never get the opportunity to defend the title being stripped by the WBC when being sent to prison. He would have one bout upon his release in 2007. He went unbeaten going into his 18th fight for the Canadian welterweight title which ended in a technical draw with Mario Cusson, 27-1. In the rematch he won the title in 1984. He defeated future WBA Super middleweight champion Steve Little in 1989. Besides two fights with Cusson, he would have a series of fights with fellow Canadians Alain Bonnamie, 5-0, losing for the first time in 9 years, in 1990. It was a split decision with Hilton finding himself on the canvas. It would take six years for the rematch that ended in a draw. Just four months later Hilton would win the rubber match. In 1998 he won the Canadian middleweight title over Stephane Quellet, 25-1, coming from behind with a 12th round stoppage. In the rematch in 1999 Hilton easily won by knockout. In the third match in 2000 Hilton would lose by a wide margin but still get the world title bout with Thobela. Hilton would end up 41-2-2 (26).

MATTHEW HILTON He would become IBF light middleweight champion defeating Buster Drayton, 32-9-1 in 1987. It was Hilton’s 27th straight win without a loss. After one title defense and a non-title win he would lose to Rob Hines, 23-1-1. In 1990 he lost in an effort to win the WBO middleweight title from Doug DeWitt. Hilton would retire at age 27never challenging for a Canadian title. His final record was 32-3-1 (23).

ALEX HILTON He was the only Hilton brother not to win a world title, but won the Canadian middleweight title in his 15th fight in 1983. He would go unbeaten until his 20th fight losing to Puerto Rico’s Carlos Betancourt, 16-9-1, in 1985. After a knockout loss he was inactive from 1985-91. He returned winning ten straight bouts including wins over Shawn O’Sullivan and Alain Bonnamie before losing to Quellet twice. He also lost to future WBC Super middleweight champion Eric Lucas and in his last 6 fights had losses to Bonnamie and brother-in-law Joe Gatti. His overall record was 37-11 (23).

JOACHIM ALCINE He was born in Haiti, moving to Montreal and winning the WBA Light middleweight title from Travis Simms, 25-0, in 2007. He had one defense before losing for the first time in his 31st fight to former WBO champion Daniel Santos, 31-3-1, in July of 2008. His current record is 30-1 (19).

SYD VANDERPOOL He was from Ontario. He won his first 17 fights in the US. He only lost once in his first 29 fights and took a 23 fight winning streak into a title bout with IBF middleweight champ Bernard Hopkins, 36-2-1, coming down from super middleweight. He had just defeated Glen Johnson, 36-4. He then won 7 straight including wins over Jaffa Ballagou, 40-4 and Tito Mendoza, 31-4. He then lost in a vacant IBF title bout to Jeff Lacy, 16-0, in October of 2004. Losing to future IBF super middleweight champion Alejandro Berrio in 9 rounds ended his career at 35-4 (23).

DONATO PADUANO He was born in Italy and came to Montreal. He won his first 16 fights taking the Canadian welterweight title from Joey Durelle, 60-7-4 in 1969. He had two fights in early 1970 at Madison Square Garden defeating Pat Murphy, 25-0 and son of legendary Frenchman Marcel Cerdan, Marcel Cerdan, Jr., 47-1-1. I remember seeing this one on television. It was a close fight. He won 22 straight before losing to future WBA lightweight champion Ken Buchanan, 37-1 in 1970. He then loses his Canadian title to Clyde Gray, 24-1. In 1972 he defeated the former welterweight champion Louis Rodriguez, 107-12 and lost to Charky Ramon, 30-1-1, for the Commonwealth title in Australia. He would win 6 straight before losing to former welter and middleweight champion Emile Griffith, 79-17-1 in 1974. In 1975 he went “home” to Italy for his only fight there and lost an 8 round decision and retired until 1980. He returned going 1-1. His final record was 42-9-2 (15).

OTIS GRANT was born in Jamaica. He turned pro in Montreal in 1988 winning his first 21 fights in capturing the NABF title from Brett Lally, 32-8, in Las Vegas. Next he would defeat Willie “the Worm” Monroe, 19-1-2, before losing to Quincy Taylor, 21-3. He would win 6 straight and fight to a draw with Lonnie Bradley, 25-0, for his WBO middleweight title. In 1997 he defeats Ryan Rhodes, 16-0, for the vacant WBO title in the UK. Two fights later he challenges Roy Jones, Jr., 37-1, for his light heavyweight titles and is stopped in the 10th round. In 2003 after a 5 year lay-off he won 7 straight including the Canadian title before losing to Librado Andrade, 22-0 and retired. His final record was 38-3-1 (17). He and his brother Howard own a boxing gym in Dollard Des Ormeaux, Montreal.

LOU BROUILLARD He was born in Quebec and turned pro in 1928 in the US. In 1931 he won the NBA and World welterweight titles from Young Jack Thompson, 71-28-13. In 1932 he defeated former lightweight champion Jimmy McLarnin, 48-7-3. In 1933 he defeated former champion Mickey Walker, 99-15-2, before 16,000 at Madison Square Garden. In 1933 he won the NYSAC World middleweight title stopping Ben Jeby. In 1935 he won his 100th fight in Paris, France. He ended his career in 1940 with a 109-29-3 and 23 NC with 67 knockouts and being stopped only once in 141 fights.

SHAWN O’ SULLIVAN From Toronto, he won the World Amateur Championships in 1981. He would represent Canada at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. He defeated opponents from Libya, South Korea and Great Britain. In the semi-finals he defeated Christophe Tiozzo of France who would later win the WBA Super middleweight title. In the final round he lost to Frank Tate of the US who would go on to win the IBF Middleweight title. He won his first 11 pro fights including wins in the US and Ireland. In 1986 he suffered his first defeat to the future IBF/WBC welterweight and WBC light middleweight champion Simon Brown of Jamaica/US. He would come back with 6 straight wins including a knockout of Darryl Anthony (22-5-2) who was the only one to defeat 1984 Gold medalist Mark Breland in his 111 amateur bouts. In 1988 he lost to future WBC light middleweight champion Luis Santana for the NABF title in Las Vegas. Several months later he would lose to Donovan Boucher (16-1) for the Canadian title and retired for 3 years. He came back scoring several knockouts before losing back to back fights including a knockout loss to Alex Hilton (22-2) sending him into another retirement. Then 4 years later he went 4-0 finishing his career with a 23-5 (16) record.

CLYDE GRAY This Toronto native won his first 16 fights before losing to former WBA/WBC light welter champ Eddie Perkins. The streak had included a win over Dave Hilton, Jr. Another streak of 8 straight would follow winning the Canadian title from Danato Paduano. An 11 fight win streak included wins over Marcel Cerdan, Jr. and Manuel Gonzalez. He won the Commonwealth title in 1973 over Eddie Blay, 31-3-4, earning a title bout 6 months later with WBA/WBC welter champ Jose Napoles, losing in 15. In 1975 lost in a WBA vacant title bout with Angel Espada. In 1977 after a 9 bout winning streak was broken in a rematch with Ray Chavez Guerrero (draw in first match), he got a title bout in with Pipino Cuevas for his WBA title losing in 2. He then won 7 straight including a rubber match with Guerrero before losing to Thomas Hearns. His final record was 69-10-1 (48). He would later become boxing commissioner in Ontario.

MARK LEDUC He won the silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. He had defeated Romania’s Leo Doroftei (Dorin) in the semi-final. He was born in Toronto. His amateur record was 158-26. His professional record was short lived winning the Canadian light welterweight title in his 4th fight while losing it in his next fight and retiring at 4-1 (2). In 1994 he came out as a gay man in the TV documentary “For the Love of the Game”.

LEO “The Lion” DORIN (Doroftei) He won every Romanian national junior title and five senior titles. In 1995 he won the World Amateur Championship in Berlin. In 1992 at Barcelona and 1996 at Atlanta he won bronze medals for Romania. In 2002 he won the WBA light welterweight title in his 20th fight defeating Raul Balbi, 48-4-1, in the US. He defeated Balbi in a rematch in Romania (only fight there). In 2003 he fought to a disputed draw with IBF champion Paul Spadafora, 36-0, in the US. In 2004 he would lose the only fight of his career to Arturo Gatti for the WBC light welterweight title and retired after the bout. His final record was 22-1-1 (8).

ARTURO GATTI He was born in Montreal but spent most of his entire career in the US winning his lone bout in 2000 in Montreal. He won the IBF Super featherweight title in 1995 from Tracy Patterson, 57-4-1 (step-son of Floyd Patterson). He moved up to lightweight losing back to back fights to Ivan Robinson. The first match was 1998’s Ring Magazine’s fight of the year. In 2002-03 he had 3 famous bouts with Mickey Ward, winning the last two earning him a shot at the vacant WBC light welterweight title when he defeated Gianluca Branco, 32-0-1, of Italy. He had two successful defenses including one over Dorin before losing to Floyd Mayweather, 33-0, in 2005. He then had an unsuccessful shot at the WBC welterweight title losing to Carlos Baldomir in 2006. After a loss in 2007 he would retire with a 40-9 (31) record.

JACKIE CALLURA He was from Hamilton and represented Canada in the 1932 Summer Olympics. He defeated Jackie Wilson (90-22-8) for the NBA featherweight title in 1943 and defended against Wilson. He would next lose to Phil Terranova (18-5-7) in 1943. His career went from 1936 to 1947. His final record was 59-42-12 (16).

STEVE MOLITOR He was from Ontario, winning five national titles at 112. He was defeated in the Olympic trials ending with a 93-11 record. Turning pro in 2000 he won 10 straight including defeating Scotty Olson for the Canadian super bantam title. In 2006 he defeated Michael Hunter (26-0-1) for the vacant IBF bantamweight title. He had five successful defenses against South Africa’s Takalani Ndlovu (27-3), Thailand’s Fahsan 3K Battery (58-8-1), Mexico’s Ricardo Castillo (34-4), Fernando Beltran, Jr. (30-2-1) and Argentina’s Ceferino Labarda (18-0) before losing to Panama’s Cellestino Caballero (30-2) in his last fight the end of 2008. His current record is 28-1 (11).

GEORGE DIXON He was the first black world champion in any weight class and first Canadian born world champion. He was from Halifax. He claimed the world featherweight title in 1890 beating Nunc Wallace (6-1) in London. He would lose it to Frank Erne (19-0-8) in 1896. He would regain the title twice and make 14 successful defenses finally losing to Terry McGovern (48-2-5) in 1900. His final record was 65-30-48 (36). He was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1956 and the IBHOF in 1990.

So who was the best Canadian fighter of all time? Chuvalo, Dixon, Lewis, Burns?

Ken at: kenhissner@yahoo.com

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