George Chuvalo; Key to the City
Its a huge privilege to be here today, to help honour my friend, George Chuvalo, by presenting him with a key to our great City.
Before we get into the formalities of todays presentation, I would like to talk a bit about George and his contributions to Toronto. These are many and range from his legendary boxing career and his charity work.
Georges parents, Steve and Kate came to Canada from Bosnia and Her-zeg-ov-ina and worked hard to provide for their family. Raised in the Junction area of Toronto in the 1930s, Georges parents both worked at Canada Packers to provide for George and his Sister Zora.
Those who knew Georges father, remember his extraordinary work ethic, never taking a day off and even going into work when he was supposed to be on holidays. However, his fathers ability to do the work of two men, even without the use of his left arm, had a lasting impression on many.
His fathers ability to overcome adversity and succeed has undoubtedly helped make George the person he is today.
George will tell you that he became fascinated with the sport of boxing when he saw action pictures of boxers in Ring Magazine when he was a kid. It was then that George decided that he would become a boxer and later that year George would get his first pair of gloves for Christmas.
George would train out of the Earlscourt Athletic Club and quickly became one of Torontos best known amateur boxers. He would have an amateur career of 16-0-0 and was given the name Boom Boom.
In 1956, George was selected to represent Canada at the Olympic Games, but had to pass because there was a lack of funding for armature boxers. He would instead go pro, winning the Dempsey Novice Heavyweight Tournament on April 26, 1956 at Maple Leaf Gardens after knocking out four opponents in one night.
Two years later, George would knock out James J. Parker and win the Canadian Heavyweight Boxing Title. He would be the reigning Canadian Heavyweight Boxing Champion for a record 21 years.
By 1962, George had risen to become the number 2 heavyweight boxer in the world. George would fight twice for the heavyweight title -- once against Ernie Terrell in 1965 and once again in 1966 against Muhammad Ali.
Georges 1966 bout with Muhammad Ali at Maple Leaf Gardens is one of the most memorable and legendary fights in boxing history. George took the fight on 17 days notice and was a 7 to 1 underdog.
Fighting Ali in his prime, George became the first man to take him the full 15 rounds after he became champion. It was later revealed that Muhammad Ali was hospitalized after the fight, while George would go dancing with his wife.
Many regard the Ali-Chuvalo fight as one of Canadas greatest sporting events. It would also thrust Toronto into the spotlight.
George would go head to head with Muhammad Ali 6 years later in Vancouver. He would again go the full 15 rounds with Ali.
George retired from boxing in 1979 as the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of Canada with a record of 73-18-12. He would also be one of the only boxers in history to never be knocked off his feet.
Throughout his professional career, George faced the toughest fighters that included Jerry Quarry, Cleveland Williams, Buster Mathis, Floyd Patterson, Ernie Terrell, Joe Frazier, Jimmy Ellis, George Foreman and Muhammad Ali.
Following Georges career in boxing, he would lose his three sons and wife as a result of substance abuse. Under these tragic circumstances, George has found the strength to share his experience with students, parents and groups. He does this through his charity Fight Against Drugs.
George has travelled coast to coast, sharing his message and deglamorizes the lifestyle of substance abuse. In these presentations, George offers a message of hope and helping those who are at risk. George has shared his message with over 300 schools and at countless other venues.
In recognition of his commitment to working with Canadian youth, George was awarded the Order of Canada in 1998. He is also an inductee in the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, the World Boxing Hall of Fame and has a star on Canadas Walk of Fame.
George has also had a number of roles in TV, movies and commercials.
Today, George lives in Toronto and is happily married to his wife Joanne and enjoys time with his children, step children and grandchildren.
It is now my pleasure to present the Key to the City of Toronto to George Boom Boom Chuvalo.
George, please come forward to receive the Key to the city of Toronto.