Pubdate: Wed, 08 Dec 1999
Source: Tab, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 1999 Ardee Publications Ltd.
Contact:  1277 Cedar Ave., Trail, B.C., Canada V1R 4B9
Fax: (250) 368-6005
Author: Murray Greig

The Champ Wants to Visit West Kootenay

The greatest fighter Canada ever produced is on the horn from Toronto,
anxious to tell me about his recent sojourn to one of the remotest -
and poorest - regions of Newfoundland.

"I couldn't believe the response," George Chuvalo says with a trace of
genuine wonder in his voice.  "I spoke to a large group of parents and
kids who have enough trouble just getting through the day-to-day
stuff.  Like almost everywhere else today, a lot of those kids are
already experimenting with drugs and messing themselves up..but they
were coming up to me afterwards and saying I'd given them something to
think about, something that hopefully might change their lives..."

Chuvalo isn't just a boxer, He's a fighter with a capital F.  He held
the Canadian heavyweight title for more than 20 years and is the only
Top 10 world-ranked heavyweight in history who was never knocked down.
 He knocked out 71 of his 97 opponents and traded punches with some of
the sport's all-time greats - including Muhammad Ali (twice), Joe
Frazier and George Foreman.  Since hanging up his gloves in 1979 he's
appeared in more than a dozen movies (The Fly, Prom Night III, The
Return of Elliot Ness), was inducted into the Order of Canada.  But
it's the fight Chuvalo has carried on outside the ring that's made him
a true champion for Canada's youth.

In February 1985, Chuvalo's son Jesse committed suicide to free
himself from heroin addiction.  Two years later, sons Steven and
George Lee were sent to prison for a drugstore robbery.  In October
1993, less than a week after being released from prison, George Lee
was found dead from a drug overdose in a Toronto hotel room.  Four
days later, a disconsolate Lynne Chuvalo, George's wife of 33 years,
took her own life.  Three years after Lynne's death, Steven Chuvalo
fatally overdosed on heroin.

Through it all, the man who was beaten but never defeated has managed
to hold together his remaining family - a daughter, a son,
daughters-in-law, grandchildren.  The same stoic resilience and
strength of will that served Chuvalo so well between the ropes has
been channeled into a foundation: Fight Against Drugs, Inc.  On behalf
of the organization he founded, George crisscrosses Canada several
times each year, speaking to students, youth organizations and service
clubs.  He talks the way he fought: plain, unadorned...and with
devastating power.

"It's the toughest fight of my life, relating what happened to my
family because of drugs," he says quietly.  "I don't mince words..I
tell it like it is.  I've seen it up close, I've seen what happens, so
I'm able to take away the sense of glamor or thrills some kids attach
to drugs.  I don't preach, I just tell my story and let the kids ask
questions.  It's not pretty, but I know when I'm getting through to

Over the past two years Chuvalo has travelled tens of thousands of
miles for Fight Against Drugs, Inc.  In the last six weeks alone, he's
been to Newfoundland, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the
Okanagan--and he says he'd love to bring his message to the West Kootenay.

"If I reach just one kid every time I speak, it doesn't matter how far
I travelled to get there," he says.  "If I can spare one family going
through the hell my family has gone through, it's all

For more information on Fight Against Drugs, Inc. or on sponsoring
Chuvalo for a talk, visit his website at,
fax to 416-748-7727 or e-mail to  ---
MAP posted-by: allan wilkinson