Earl Sullivan, owner of Sully's Gym dies
By RON HUTCHISON -- Special to SLAM! Wrestling
Earl "Sully" Sullivan (left) locks up with Lord Athol Layton (right). Photo courtesy of Sully's Gym.
The Canadian fight fraternity, both boxing and wrestling, lost a legend on
Earl "Sully" Sullivan, a hero to generations of Toronto's inner-city kids,
died quietly at St. Joseph's Health Centre in Toronto. He was 84.
Mr. Sullivan, the charismatic ex-boxer, manager, corner man, trainer and
kind-hearted founder of the Toronto Youth and Athletic Club (the oldest
youth club in Canada) was one of the most colourful characters that
Toronto has ever or will ever see.
Sullivan was born Nov. 16th, 1914, in Mimico under the family name O'Sullivan. "Sully" -
as he insisted on being called - adopted the name Sullivan as his surname.
A legendary figure on the Toronto boxing scene, "Sully" worked out with a who's-who of the boxing world at his famous gym in the city's west-end. Muhammad Ali, George Chuvalo, Clyde Gray, Joey
Manteiga and Spider Jones are just some of the hundreds of talented
boxers who have skipped rope and traded leather at Sully's Gym. Today,
Manteiga is the club's director.
Professional wrestlers and other sporting heroes were also no strangers to
Sully's club. Toronto Maple Leaf hockey greats Dave "Tiger" Williams,
Darryl Sittler and Jim McKenny often could be spotted at Sully's working
out as could wrestling greats such as "Whipper" Watson, "Tiger" Jeet
Singh, Johnny Powers, "Sweet Daddy" Siki, Dewey Robertson and Rocky
Sully was good friends with Toronto wrestling greats Lord Athol
Layton and Maple Leaf Gardens' wrestling promoter Frank Tunney. Sully even helped Tunney promote a few boxing and wrestling shows
in Ontario and sometimes acted as a referee for Tunney. Sully often
recalled the time when he had to give the wrestlers their pay because Frank
had developed a scab on his nose from skin cancer and didn't want the boys
to see him. "I cried like a baby when Frank died", Sully had said.
In addition to names of the not-so distant past such as Bobby Bass, midget
star Farmer Brooks and the flamboyant Goldie Rogers, the Sully's Gym
wrestling program has spawned many of today's hottest pro-wrestling
superstars. Edge, Tiger Ali Singh, Christian, Ms. B. Haven, and Johnny
Swinger are just the tip of the iceberg of Sully's products who are
beginning to make their mark on the world of sports/entertainment.
Sully's never-ending charity work and his dedication to Toronto's youth
earned him numerous awards, accolades and respect from many movers and
shakers. Former Toronto Mayor Art Eggleton and alderman Tony
O'Donohue once sat on the board of directors of Sully's Gym.
Sully's Gym, the life's passion of Earl Sullivan, will live on. The
renowned Toronto institution will enter the new millennium with the exact
same philosophy that Sully himself instilled in all who entered his gym:
"IT'S BETTER TO BUILD BOYS--THAN MEND MEN!"
. Sully wouldn't have had it
any other way.
A memorial service for Sully will be held at Parkdale's Ross Craig Funeral
Home, 1357 Queen Street West, (416) 532-4446 on Saturday April 3 from 2 to
In lieu of flowers donations to Sully's Gym can be sent to: Joe Manteiga
in trust for Sully's Boxing and Athletic Club, 53 Fraser Ave., Unit 215,
Toronto, Ontario, CANADA, M6K 1Y7.
Ron Hutchison has spent over half of his life working alongside Earl Sullivan
teaching the art of pro-wrestling at Sully's Gym. Today, Hutchison serves
as Chief Consultant and Head Wrestling Trainer at the gym.