NANAIMO BOXING CLUB - The beginning of a long journey
Looking back at an old Golden Gloves program, former President of the
CANADIAN AMATEUR BOXING ASSOCIATION, Jerry Shears said that during
his examination of his boxing archives he came across the list of the 1972 clubs
which included the Nanaimo Boxing Club with the following names mentioned
John Ormandy, Les Varro, Dan Wright and Brian Zelley.
Of course, no Golden Gloves program can tell the story of a boxing club
and it's beginnings. Some say, after George Nepper folded the Newcastle
Boxing Club in 1968, that boxing wouldn't return, but they would be wrong.
However, for three years the old boxing equipment was gathering dust in
the basement of George Nepper's home. It would stay that way for three years.
However, a series of events that began in the library of the Nanaimo District
Secondary School (NDSS) and a discussion by two strangers in 1967 would
result in the formation of the Nanaimo Boxing Club in 1971 by Zelley & Wright.
Funny thing, I was attending Grade 13 in Nanaimo during 1966/67 and
was still boxing for the Newcastle Boxing Club and had recently competed
in the 1967 BC Diamond Belt Tournament,but would soon be on my way to
Vancouver to train with some club in Vancouver before going to UBC in
September 1968. I had previously visited the Hastings CC Club of
Pat O'Reilly in January 1966 and sparred with one boxer that was preparing
for Golden Gloves activity in Washington State. Then again, I had fought against
two of the best Firefighters boxers including Canadian champion Jimmy MacMillan
and Golden Glover Del Deugau, and fought on Victoria and Port Alberni cards
with Dick Findlay, Dave Wylie, Steve Tohill, Kalman Santosi and other Firefighters
so picked that club for the opportunity for more club shows and tournament.
Also, Fred Fuller and Frankie Scott would also join the Firefighters so the choice was clear.
Dan Wright, was a football player and a school wrestler, but his father was a former
middleweight boxer. So that day in the library of NDSS when the stranger approached
me to ask me what I thought of USA boxer Buster Mathis would provide a spark that would be
ignited in late 1968 or early 1969 at some hamburger joint in Vancouver when I happened to
see the stranger Dan Wright and Ray Ormandy. Aside from the burgers and soft drinks and the
small talk, I invited Dan "the Wrestler" Wright and Ray "The Rugby Player" Ormandy to train at
at the Firefighters Boxing Club. But, it would still take a couple of years before the moon,
the stars and the boxing planets were lined-up to start the boxing club.
Much of the discussion and planning for a potential boxing club took place in the summer of
1970 at the home of the Rugby players"cousin John Ormandy in Nanaimo. But, with all my
Commerce courses in such things as Marketing and my previous boxing write-ups for
amateur boxing and the odd letters in the various boxing magazines an important part
of long-term success would require contacts on the local level, on the Provincial level
and to work-up a positive relationship with the news media with the critical point
being the local daily the "Nanaimo Daily Free Press" and to renew old connections to
the "Nanaimo Times". When that paper first began about 1960, I was a carrier in
the Townsite area of Nanaimo, and in 1967 wrote a few pieces about boxing.
Another important issue was the training issues, it was my believe that the most
important issue for the newcomers would have to be sound technical skills learned
slowly and not rushed - including proper stance, footwork, ring movement and
Two of the young boxers that would be early stars for the Nanaimo Boxing Club
would be DARREN LUSSIER and JACK SNAITH and the rest is history.