George Chuvalo is a Canadian boxing legend who stood as our country's national champion for twenty years. Ranked as high as Number Two in the world, Chuvalo stayed in the top 10 for most of his career and appeared numerous times on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Incredibly, in 97 professional fights in a sport where toughness is part of the job description, Chuvalo was never knocked out or knocked down.
From the first time he picked up Ring magazine, Chuvalo knew he wanted to become a boxer. He trained hard and moved quickly up the amateur ranks, turning professional in 1956 at the age of 18. In 1954, Chuvalo had been the first boxer chosen to represent Canada at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne; in those days, however, amateur athletes received no financial backing and Chuvalo had to make the decision to bypass the Olympics and go pro in order to support himself.
Chuvalo was young, tough and the hottest up-and-comer in Canadian boxing. Most experts agreed he had a bright future ahead of him and he emerged as the top contender for the Canadian Heavyweight title. "I used to dream of being champion," Chuvalo said at the time. "The thrill of combat, the thrill of winning, it's just something I know I want to do."
On September 15, 1958, three days after his 21st birthday, Chuvalo realized his dream of winning the Canadian Heavyweight title after knocking out James Parker just two minutes into the first round.
But Chuvalo had bigger dreams. He wanted to be Heavyweight champion of the world. Chuvalo racked up an impressive record against formidable opponents and by 1962 he had achieved Number 2 in the world. Chuvalo's first big break came after he KO'd high-ranking Doug Jones on October 2, 1964 in New York's Madison Square Garden. Two bouts later, on April 30, 1965, Chuvalo was back in the Big Apple, only this time against Floyd Patterson, former two-time world champion, with the winner getting a shot at Muhammad Ali's title. In this bout voted "1965 Fight of the Year" by Ring magazine, Chuvalo and Patterson went head-to-head all twelve rounds with Patterson winning by decision.
In 97 professional fights, George Chuvalo was never knocked down or out once. On March 29 1966, Chuvalo fought the incredible Muhammad Ali. Although Chuvalo lost the fight due to decision, Ali later said that "He was the toughest man I ever fought." In 1995, Chuvalo took on the role as a tireless and inspirational anti-drug advocate and public speaker.