Pubdate: Tue, 23 May 2006
Source: Labradorian, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2006 The Labradorian
Author: Melodie Daniels


George Chuvalo Shares the Realities of Narcotics With

Twice, Canadian boxer George Chuvalo faced legendary Mohammed Ali in
the ring. Twice he lost. Now, he has taken on another opponent in
perhaps his greatest and longest battle.

The 69-year-old grandfather has traded in his gloves for a microphone
and has become one of the greatest advocates in the war on drugs. Last
Thursday, he paid a visit to North West River to talk to the youth
about how drugs have impacted his life.

"When setting blueprints for life make it for a beautiful

Shortly after an accident, one of his four sons began to use
painkillers. When that was no longer enough, he turned to narcotics.
Two of his brothers also began using.

"That was from May to September. I didn't see it coming, but
afterwards I had three addicts," he tells the young audience.

Two of his sons died from overdoses. Another son and his wife
committed suicide.

He paints a picture of narcotics, working to discourage the glamorous
and romanticized images portrayed by Hollywood. He tells the teens of
how his sons, when they went to buy their heroin, would defecate
themselves as soon as they saw it. Then they would go off to shoot up,
still dirty. He recalls an image of his son in an orange t-shirt, head
over a toilet, tears, sweat and vomit, screaming at the top of his
lungs for drugs.

"There is pain, shame, humiliation," he says.

"It is only a temporary break from you problems, but becomes a full
time monkey on your back."

Mr. Chuvalo firmly believes that if his sons had been able to have
glimpses into their future that this is not the path they would have
chosen. By talking to others about drugs, he is hoping that his story
will help them see what the road ahead could unfold should they try.

"I remember after my first son died I couldn't stand looking at my
wife and she couldn't stand looking at me."

Two days after the funeral for the death of their second son, his wife
also took her life.

However, his talks are not only about hard-core drugs. He emphasizes
the effects of smoking by asking who would drink a can of tomato soup
if it were labeled with words such as 'could cause cancer, might lead
to stroke'. He also notes that a group who smokes is more likely to
try alcohol. Someone who has been drinking is more likely to try pot.
And someone who does softer drugs is more likely to move on to harder

"You have a responsibility to your unborn children and their unborn
children. Be someone they can be proud of."

These tours to schools and groups were originally planned to be given
with one of his sons. He overdosed 30 days before the first date was
planned. "My son was going to talk to young people about a lot of things."

The Chuvalo family grew up in the Toronto suburbs. In general, they
were a happy average family.

"Love is at the core of happiness," Mr. Chuvalo stresses, and he felt
his family had that. He does not blame himself and felt he did
everything he could do to help them. What he regrets, however, is not
pushing his children more in education.

"Education is the single most important determinant in how you are
going to end up in life"

High school students at North West River, Megan, John and Scott felt
sorry for him and were awed by his rough life. All agreed that they
would definitely never do drugs after hearing his story.

Mr. Chuvalo was honoured with the Order of Canada in 1998 in
recognition of his hard work and dedication to Canada's youth. He was
inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1990 for his
memorable boxing career from 1958-1979. 
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