George Chuvalo has won and he has lost during eight decades in the ring of life.
Big wins. Big losses.
But count Sept. 12, 2017 as another win for The Champ.
“I am so thrilled so many people care,” the legendary boxer and former Canadian heavyweight champion said at his giant 80th birthday party at the Cadillac Lounge. “I am so touched by this.”
People care, George.
The stars were out to share in the celebration. One thing they all had in common is they are huge fans of Chuvallo.
“This guy has been a hero to me since the 1950s when I first saw him fight in Montreal,” said Don Cherry. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
Same goes for his Coach’s Corner and Hockey Night in Canada sidekick Ron MacLean.
“A Canadian treasure,” said MacLean. “I am proud to be here.”
Seems everybody was there: Boxers Donovan Boucher, Egerton Marcus and Spider Jones; Goddo frontman Greg Godovitz; Dragon Michael Wekerle; and the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons.
And hundreds of his fans.
The gifts some of them brought were marvellous. From posters from his two legendary fights with boxing great Muhammad Ali to oil paintings of him in his fighting hey day.
“I am surprised all of that is even remembered,” said Chuvalo. “A lot of time has gone by but I am glad boxing fans enjoyed it all.”
Sitting with his son, Mitch, and his grandkids, George savours family since he lost three sons to addictions. The pain of all of that has not been easy for George, who has spent the last 20 years warning kids of the evils of drug use.
But on this night, the focus was on happiness.
Chuvalo said at this stage in his life he is exactly that.
“I am certainly happy tonight seeing all of these great friends,” he said.
Cherry said the thing about George was he was more than a tough, hard puncher.
“George was also very smart in the ring,” said Cherry. “He backed up his words with results.”
No boxer could knock him out on the canvas and no rough patches could take him down in life.
At 80, Chuvalo is still winning most of his bouts.