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Boxer shares life’s lessons with L-128 apprentices


Former heavyweight champion George Chuvalo, at left, kids around with Local 128 apprentice Ryan Creech.

Former heavyweight champion describes loss of three sons to heroin

GEORGE CHUVALO WAS never knocked down in 93 professional fights — including matches against such boxing greats as Mohammed Ali (twice), Joe Fraser, and George Foreman. He was the reigning Canadian Heavyweight Boxing Champion for 21 years (from 1958-1979). But Chuvalo lost the fight to save his three sons from substance abuse. Jesse, George Jr., and Steven all died from heroin addiction. In a related tragedy, Chuvalo’s first wife, Lynn, committed suicide following the death of their second son.

Now a motivational speaker, Chuvalo spoke October 27, 2009, to a class of Local 128 apprentices (Toronto, Ontario) about drugs and how they have impacted his life.

Chuvalo addressed a Level 1 class of 47 apprentices about instilling pride and self-esteem by first looking after body and mind. He encouraged the value of a good education that leads to career opportunities while promoting good mental health along with a strong love of family.

He told of his own personal tragedy, but also of his joy: his two surviving children and current wife.

Chuvalo was invited to address the class after a Local 128 apprentice got caught up with drugs and took his life.

John Petronski [a former business agent for L-128] was the one who looked for some way to get the message out that life is precious. It was his suggestion to get the former Canadian heavyweight champion to speak to the class.

Local 128 Business Manager Jim Watson said, “It is imperative that we get the future of our industry to understand that we care about them and we want them to enjoy all the opportunities the Boilermakers offer. Mr. Chuvalo speaks volumes about how important each one of us is.”

Locals  L-128
Published on the Web: March 11, 2010

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