Granite jaw still the best
By BRET HART -- Calgary Sun
George Chuvalo in January 1997 at a SkyDome WWF press conference. -- CANOE files
There's a room in my house where the walls are montaged with magazine
covers and event posters from my biggest matches.
Sometimes while shooting pool, I'll catch a glimpse of one of them out of
the corner of my eye and it's nice to reminisce.
In the collage, there is but one actual photograph. I've been fortunate to
meet a lot of celebrities and athletes and have taken pictures with some of
them, but the only one that I have hanging in my house is of me and George
The Gardens filled up early and the blood ran in the eyes of every woman,
man and child there to see the sacrifice. Heaven help the man who had to stare
into those hands, George Chuvalo could fill the ring like no one can.
Aside from being a bona fide Canadian hero, George is a friend of mine. He
goes way back with my dad. In fact, there's an interesting anecdote about
A few years ago, Stu and I were invited to a sports dinner. George
regrettably declined the invitation, but when he heard my dad would be there,
so was he.
I admire George Chuvalo, a man of great wins and even greater losses. As a
fighter, I can't help but respect his accomplishments in the ring. Not many
guys go 15 rounds with Ali -- without being knocked down. Twice!
Ali once said of Chuvalo: "I don't know of anyone who was ever tougher on
me physically than 'Granite Jaw' George Chuvalo. He gave me two tough distance
fights for a total of 27 rounds, took everything I had to dish out and kept
coming for more" -- high praise from boxing's greatest heavyweight champion of
By the end of Chuvalo's career, his record stood: 97 bouts, 78 wins, 71
knockout wins; seven decision wins, 16 decision losses, two technical knockout
losses and one draw. In 97 professional bouts, with opponents including not
only Ali, but Frasier, Foreman and Floyd Patterson, Chuvalo was never knocked
off his feet, the only boxer in history who can make that claim.
Even more than that, it is Chuvalo's amazing inner strength when enduring
devastating personal tragedies that inspires me. To rise from grief, time and
again, with such dignity and finding the fortitude to help desperate people by
becoming a passionate spokesperson for suicide and drug prevention. There's no
doubt he is the greatest boxer that Canada has ever produced but, to me, his
toughest victory is in the way he sustains his gentile humanity and even keeps
his sense of humour against all odds.
I don't see George often, but whenever I do, I come away from the
experience feeling empowered. He says simple little things to me like, "Always
be true to yourself," and "Never forget the people who helped you get where
From George, I've learned an important lesson about stumbling through
life's pitfalls with grace. And about pulling yourself up by your boot straps
while also extending a hand to those in need.
Leo McGarry, a character on West Wing, told a story that reminded me of
A guy falls into a deep hole. He can't figure out how to get out. His
doctor walks by and the guy yells , "Hey, doc, I'm down here, please help me!"
The doctor throws down a prescription to ease his aches and pains from the
fall, but he's still in the hole. After a while, a priest walks by. The guy in
the hole yells up, "Father can you please help me?"
The priest replies of course he can help and says a prayer for him. In his
most desperate moment, the guy in the hole looks up and sees a friend walking
"Joe, I'm stuck down here. Can you help me?"
Without pause, Joe jumps down into the hole.
"You jerk!" the guy in the hole says.
"Now we're both stuck down here!"
"Yeah," Joe replies, "But I've been here before and I know the way out."