VANCOUVER ISLAND BOXING - Today & Yesterday (1954 to 2009)
From the 1950's to 1990's, the most active place for boxing
was Greater Victoria. On the amateur side of the sport,
during the Sixties and early Seventies the most active club was
the London Boxing & Athletic Club which hosted numerous
boxing cards in the mid-1960's including a Vancouver Island
Tournament in 1964.
In 1976, the club folded and was replaced by the
Victoria Athletic Association which sponsored a number of boxing cards.
Another active club to host numerous club shows
and tournaments in the Seventies was the Nanaimo Boxing
Club formed in 1971.
In the eighties, there were various amateur boxing clubs
including Gold River, Campbell River, Parksville, Nanaimo,
Ladysmith, Crofton, and two in Greater Victoria.
Amateur Boxing in British Columbia was controlled by a BC Boxing Commission. In 1954 the island was divided into three areas. The area commissioners were Andy Patterson, Nick Lystar and Al Duval.
Some of the tournaments included the Vancouver Island Golden Gloves and the Silver Gloves Tournaments. In 1954, the
Golden Gloves tournament was held at the Bay Street
Armoury. It was sponsored by the 'Victoria Daily Times"
and the Greater Victoria Amateur Boxing Association.
President of the GVABA in 1954 was Al Duval. Ring officials
included Jack O'Handley, Dusty Mair, Sam McLarin,
Howard Curling, Eric Pyrah, Bob Edwards, Jerry Weicker
and Len Lightfoot. The Ringmaster was Jim Marshall
and the Timekeepers were Jim Allen and Tom Crabbe.
The show manager was Bob Chambers.
Trophies were presented by the Lieut.-Governor Clarence
The Vanvouver Island Golden Boy award was won
by Bert Wilkinson (Victoria) and the runner-up trophy
went to Dave Errington (Vancouver)..
Island winners were Tom McGaw, Bobby Bates,
Lloyd Tahouney, Bernie Hamilton, Eddie Robertson,
Bert Wilkinson, and Trent Ketchison.
In 1959, the tournament was held in Nanaimo.
The 1963-1964 boxing season ended with an Island tournament
hosted by the London Boxing Club. Champions were
Howie Rabey, Gilles Nepper, Brian Zelley, Larry Williams,
Wayne Powell, V. Jack, Tommy Black, Ken Alexander
and Rifleman Walsh of the Queen's Own Rifles.
And important boxing event for Esquimalt was the selection
of Fred Desrosiers (Royal Canadian Navy) for the
During the Sixties, a number of Island boxers competed
in the Provincial BC Golden Gloves. For instance in 1960
three boxers won championships including Tommy Black
and Tony Lilach (Victoria) and Al Curtis (Esquimalt).
Curtis was named Golden Boy. For other special
trophies, Skimp Williams of Chemainus won two awards
including most aggressive and best bout.
The 1963 B C Golden Gloves had four champions from
Greater Victoria including Cal Osmond, Mike Caird,
Larry Cardinal and Earl Pilgrim.
In 1967, four Island boxers took part in Golden Gloves and Diamond Belt tournaments in Vancouver including
Ken Alexander, Bill Taylor, Les Vegas and Brian Zelley.
Of interest, guest referee at the 1967 Diamond Belt tournament
was former undefeated heavyweight champion
During the Sixties, Island boxers also took part in
Bronze Gloves, Emerald Gloves and Silver Gloves
action in Greater Vancouver, and numerous club shows
on Vancouver Island.
Following 1968 action, there were a couple of years of limited action. But by the end of 1979, there was increased activity
and some new boxing clubs. In Campbell River, the boxing lights were kept burning with the Eagles Boxing Club formed by Jim Howie and Bill Walker. Dan Wright and Brian Zelley formed the Nanaimo Boxing Club in 1971, The Castle family formed the Cumberland Boxing Club. In 1977, Art Smith formed the
Parksville Boxing Club. In Victoria, boxing remained alive
with a small club at the Victoria Boy's Club until the London Boxing Club renewed its sponsorship until 1976 when the Victoria Athletic Association was formed.
Another important step on a Provincial level was the appointment of the experienced Howard Curling to the position of
Vancouver Island Commissioner by BCABA President
Throughout the Seventies there were a number of highlights.
including club cards and various special tournaments. One
such event took place June 6, 1976 in Victoria. It would be the last event hosted by the London Boxing Club. It was a team of English
schoolboys in a competition of select team of BC Junior Boxers.
In addition to the regular bouts, two Victoria boxers competed in a senior bout. Coaches for the Victoria boxers were Mile Caird and Brian Zelley. Assisting with hosting the tournament was Ian Duddy
and Howard Curling and many volunteers involved with the club.
Both Duddy and Zelley would be two of the founding directors of the new Victoria Athletic Association.
Folks in Nanaimo were also kept busy during the Seventies with numerous club shows and tournaments. (See story on the
history of Nanaimo Boxing).
The important highlight for the Eighties on Vancouver Island
was the revival of the 1964 Island Championships that were
staged in Parksville in 1984. The tournament was hosted by
the Parksville Boxing Club under the direction of Art Smith and
Brian Sacho. Organization for the tournament began in 1983
by three officials including Rick Brough, Howard Curling and
Brian Zelley. One preliminary meeting with Island club represemtatives took place on February 6, 1983 at the residence of the Vancouver Island Commissioner Rick Brough. Clubs in
attendance at that meeting included Crofton, Ladysmith, and
the Parksville Boxing Clubs.Clubs in Gold River, Campbell River, Nanaimo, and Victoria would participate at other meetings.